Wealthiest 1% emit as much carbon as world’s poorest two-thirds, Oxfam report reveals

An analysis by nonprofit Oxfam International exposes a stark contrast in carbon emissions, revealing that the wealthiest one percent globally contribute as much to carbon emissions as the poorest two-thirds, comprising five billion people.

The report stresses on the need for tailored government policies to address these disparities in the fight against climate change.

The report, titled “Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%,” draws on research from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), highlighting the unequal distribution of emissions associated with different income groups up to 2019. It sheds light on the critical role of income levels in shaping environmental impact.

What are the key findings?

The study discloses that the top one percent globally, comprising 77 million people, is responsible for 16 per cent of global emissions linked to consumption—equivalent to the emissions of the bottom 66 pr cent of the global population by income, or 5.11 billion people.

The income threshold for the global top one percent varies by country, factoring in purchasing power parity.

Within-country analyses further illuminate the disparities.

In France, for instance, the wealthiest one percent emits as much carbon in a year as the poorest 50 per cent does in ten years. Bernard Arnault, France’s richest individual and founder of Louis Vuitton, has a carbon footprint 1,270 times larger than the average French citizen when excluding emissions tied to investments.

Also watch | Nations voice their concerns about climate change | WION Climate Tracker


Max Lawson, co-author of the report, puts emphasis the necessity for progressive climate policies. Suggestions include imposing taxes on frequent air travel or differentiating taxes on green and non-green investments, while speaking to AFP. The report argues that effective policies should ensure those with higher emissions bear larger sacrifices.

While the study focuses on individual consumption-related carbon, it notes that the super-rich’s personal emissions are overshadowed by those resulting from their investments. Billionaires exhibit a higher likelihood of investing in polluting industries than the average investor, as revealed in prior Oxfam research.

(With inputs from agencies)

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