Study: The split of emissions is now greater within countries than between greenhouse gas emissions

The data shows that the difference between the carbon emissions of the rich and the poor within a country is now greater than the differences in emissions between countries.

This finding is further evidence of The growing divide between the “polluted elite” of the wealthy around the world, and relatively low emissions responsibility among the rest of the population.

The analysis also found that there is plenty of room for the world’s poorest to increase greenhouse gas emissions if needed to reach prosperity, if the world’s rich – including some in developing countries – reduce their emissions.

Most global climate policies have focused on the difference between developed and developing countries, and their current and historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. But A growing body of business indicates that the “pollution elite” are among the world’s highest earners far outweigh the emissions of the poor.

This has serious consequences for climate action, as it shows that low-income people within developed countries contribute less to the climate crisis, while Rich people in developing countries have much larger carbon footprints than previously recognized.

In a report entitled Climate Inequality Report 2023Economists from the Global Inequality Lab are currently dissecting the source of carbon emissions. The influential economist co-directs the Global Inequality Lab Thomas Pikettyauthor of Capital in the 21st Century, whose work after the financial crisis more than a decade ago helped popularize the idea of ​​the “1%,” a global high-income group whose interests current economic systems favor.

The report found that “carbon inequality within countries now appears to be greater than carbon inequality between countries. The consumption and investment patterns of a relatively small group of the population contribute directly or indirectly disproportionately to greenhouse gases. While disparities in emissions across countries are Still significant, the general disparity in global emissions is now mostly explained by inequality within a country through some indicator.”

The report also found that while external climate aid – a major focus of the recent COP27 climate negotiations – will be necessary to help developing countries reduce their emissions, it will not be enough, and developing countries will also need to reform their domestic tax systems to redistribute more of the rich. .

The authors point out that windfall taxes on excess profits can help fund low-carbon investment, as well as progressive taxation in countries, including developing countries, that often ease taxation for wealthy citizens and corporations.

The report added that large emerging economies – such as China – now bear an increasing responsibility for the stock of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They must now set clear plans to reach net zero emissions.

Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex, who has She worked extensively on the issue of the tainted elitewho was not involved in the report, said it showed consumption patterns needed to change to address the climate crisis.

“Emissions inequality matters because carbon inequality within countries accounts for the bulk of global carbon inequality between them those that generate emissions and those suffering the worst effects of global warming and those with the least capacity to adapt.

“The consumption and investment patterns by the polluting elite, which drive these disproportionate contributions to climate change, need to be reduced and redirected, respectively. This is a huge challenge.”

But he added that the report also showed how global poverty could be tackled without increasing overall greenhouse gas emissions, a key point where the world must cut emissions by about half by 2030 in order to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. . levels.

Newell told the Guardian:[The report shows that] Tackling global poverty will not bypass global carbon budgets, as is often claimed. Failure to address the power and privilege of the tainted elite will. These are related because reducing carbon intake at the top can free up carbon space to lift people out of poverty.”

He said the solutions lie in changing government policy to focus on elite polluters, and innovating a fairer and more efficient approach to reducing emissions.

“The combination of progressive taxation, including for highly polluting activities, and redistribution of subsidies for fossil fuels can help strengthen the welfare state and social protection to help close some of these gaps,” he said.

“This critical report once again underscores the need for a just transition to a low-carbon economy that reflects the unequal responsibility for causing the climate crisis and the unequal capacity to help address it.”

last year Paper by the PIK Potsdam Institute for Climate Researchco-authored with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, found that taxing the rich was one of the best ways to finance the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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