Growing inequality hindering climate change policing

The world is confronted by devastating effects caused by climate change

Extreme economic inequality has been cited as one of the barriers faced by governments in controlling carbon emissions emitted in huge amounts by the rich nations.

According to a recent Oxfam report, the world’s richest countries emit unsustainably high amounts of carbon amounting to 70% of total emissions.

Titled Carbon Billionaires: The Investment Emissions of World’s Richest People, Oxfam says governments should hold the wealthy to account by introducing laws compelling corporates and investors to reduce carbon emissions as well as imposing taxes on investments in polluting industries.

The report comes as world leaders are gathered for the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

“Extreme inequality and wealth concentration undermine the ability of humanity to stop climate breakdown. Very rich people emit huge and unsustainable amounts of carbon and have an outsized influence over our economy,” the report partly read.

“Unlike with ordinary people, 50% to 70% of the emissions of the world’s richest people are the result of their investments. They hold extensive stakes in many of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world — large enough stakes to influence the actions taken by these corporations.”

The report says 14% of investments owned by billionaires are in polluting industries, which include fossil fuels and cement.

“Emissions from billionaire lifestyles, including their private jets and yachts, are thousands of times the average person’s, which is itself unacceptable and unsustainable. But if we include emissions from their investments, then their carbon emissions are over a million times higher,” the report said.

“Governments must regulate investors and the corporate sector so that long-term sustainability and the reduction of inequality are put ahead of delivering ever higher returns to wealthy shareholders. They should compel corporations and their rich investors to systematically cut their carbon emissions far more drastically if we are to avoid climate breakdown.”

The revelations on emissions, the report says, have exposed the huge role income inequalities play in the climate change discourse.

Follow us on Twitter @NewsDayZimbabwe

Related Topics