Agence France-PresseSeptember 22, 2020 10:16:45 AM
The richest percent of people are responsible for more than twice as much carbon as the poorest half of the world’s population – 3.1 billion people ̵
Despite a sharp drop in carbon emissions due to the pandemic, the world remains on track to warm several degrees this century, threatening poor and developing countries with the full range of natural disasters and displacement.
An analysis conducted by Oxfam found that between 1990 and 2015, when annual emissions rose 60 percent, rich nations were responsible for depleting nearly a third of the earth’s carbon budget.
The carbon budget is the limit on the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions humanity can cause before a catastrophic rise in temperature becomes inevitable.
Only 63 million people – the “one percent” – have consumed nine percent of the carbon budget since 1990, according to research by the Stockholm Environmental Institute for Oxfam.
The analysis highlighted a growing “carbon inequality” and found that the one percent growth rate in emissions was three times that of the poorest half of humanity.
“It’s not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it’s not just that it slows the rate of poverty eradication,” said Tim Gore, director of policy, advocacy and research AFP.
“But there is also a third price, which is that the carbon budget is only used up for the purpose of the already prosperous growth in their consumption.”
“And of course that has the worst impact on the poorest and least responsible,” added Gore.
The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement obliges nations to limit global temperature increases to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
However, emissions have continued to rise since then, and multiple analyzes have warned that the pollution savings caused by Covid-19 will have negligible mitigating effects on climate change without a thoroughly overhauled global economy prioritizing green growth.
With only 1 ° C warming up to now, the earth is already fighting more often and more intensely with forest fires, droughts and super storms, which are getting stronger due to rising seas.
Gore said governments must put the dual challenges of climate change and inequality at the heart of any Covid-19 recovery plan.
“It is clear that the carbon-intensive and very unequal model of economic growth over the past 20 to 30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity,” he said.
“It is a false dichotomy to claim that we have to choose between economic growth and (remedying) the climate crisis.”
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, environmental activist and president of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, commented on the Oxfam report, saying that climate change cannot be tackled without prioritizing economic equality.
“My indigenous peoples have long carried the brunt of environmental degradation,” said Ibrahim.
“Now is the time to listen, integrate our knowledge and give priority to saving nature in order to save ourselves.”