POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - WORLD

Carbon inequality

Global richest 1% will massively exceed emission target by 2030



The richest 1% not only are less impacted by climate change, they are also contributing to it the most. Luxembourg is among the highest polluters in the world.  Photo: Shutterstock

The richest 1% not only are less impacted by climate change, they are also contributing to it the most. Luxembourg is among the highest polluters in the world.  Photo: Shutterstock

Frequent plane trips, shiny new cars… people with more income generate more pollution. However, the footprint of the richest one percent is on its way to be 30 times the amount to keep global warming to the 1.5°C limit set by the Paris Agreement.

An Oxfam-commissioned study, published on 5 November, found that while the poorest half of the global population will easily be able to stay below the emission cut target set by government pledges around the world, the richest 1 and 10% will by far exceed it.

Last year already, Luxembourg’s richest had been named amongst the biggest polluters in the world, even before the richest US citizens. The emissions of Luxembourg’s lower and middle classes fall, though they are significantly higher than those of their EU counterparts.

Considering Luxembourg’s pledge to reduce emissions by 55% over the next eight years, a complete overhaul of its citizens’ lifestyle would be needed to meet the target, as road transports and air travel are named the primary root of carbon emissions in the country. Though public transportation is free, it isn’t developed enough to convince Luxembourg’s population, which has the highest proportion of cars per 1,000 habitants in the EU (661 cars). 

The current billionaire space race featuring Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson also worries Oxfam, whose climate policy lead Nafkote Dabi expanded on the subject in the context of discussing carbon inequality.

Dabi said: “The emissions from a single billionaire spaceflight would exceed the lifetime emissions of someone in the poorest billion people on Earth. A tiny elite appear to have a free pass to pollute. Their over-sized emissions are fuelling extreme weather around the world and jeopardising the international goal of limiting global heating.”

Though climate change affects lower income groups more severely, Luxembourg had a taste of the impact of climate change in July, when floods tore through parts of the country.  

Prime minister Xavier Bettel, in his recent speech at the COP26, reiterated Luxembourg’s aim for 55% less emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.