Carbon emissions of richest 1% equal to those of poorest 66%, Oxfam report finds

Private jets are seen on the tarmac at Friedman Memorial Airport ahead of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 5, 2022 in Sun Valley, Idaho. 

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The world’s richest 1% of people are responsible for around the same percentage of global carbon emissions as the 5 billion people who represent the 66% poorest, according to a report published Monday by Oxfam.

The charity’s analysis, conducted with the Stockholm Environment Institute, found both groups contributed to 16% of emissions in 2019.

The wealthiest 10% were responsible for 50% of global emissions, it found, while the bottom 50% were responsible for just 8%.

Within the top 1%, the report links one-third of the carbon emissions to personal consumption in the U.S., followed by China and the Gulf countries.

The top 1% represents 77 million people and is defined in the report as having an estimated income threshold of $140,000 per year, and an average income of $310,000.

The report notes that personal consumption varies depending on factors such as location, use of renewable energy and transport — where the very wealthiest contribute significantly more due to the use of private jets and yachts.

It also includes between 50% and 70% of emissions by the 1% coming through investments in companies, measured by taking firms’ reported emissions and distributing that proportionate to shareholder ownership of those firms by the 1%.

Billionaire investments in polluting industries were double that of the average investor, Oxfam and the SEI found.

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Source: CNBC