Home | About | Donate

Highlighting 'Extreme Carbon Inequality,' Oxfam Study Shows World's Richest 1% Emit More Than Twice as Much CO2 as Poorest 50%

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/21/highlighting-extreme-carbon-inequality-oxfam-study-shows-worlds-richest-1-emit-more


Americans are the biggest emitters of fossil fuel pollution and other kinds of pollution per capita in the entire world.
Our culture is addicted to internal combustion engines and uses fossil fuels in a ludicrously excessive way.
Leaf blowers, jet skis, boats, huge vehicles, ORVs, weed whackers and so many other needless toys.
We are obese culture of consumerism, accelerating anthropogenic mass extinction.


There are many who advocate for the reduction of the human population as necessary for reversing the effects of climate change and their dream usually envisions reductions in poor people, yet this study shows that a change in the lifestyles of the wealthy could accomplish more. I was tempted to think that an elimination of the 1% would accomplish this, but they would just be replaced by the next 1%.


Thank you CarolEllison for affirming the value of quantifying your assertions, so appreciation must go to COMMON DREAMS and reporter Brett Wilkins for providing some space to recap the work of quantifying these assertions that they are more useful than mere slogans.

Appreciation also for the hard and peer-reviewed sourced data. All journalistic and STEM hands welcome on deck, even among those fortunate enough to earn their livelihood through the corporate-captured news and public affairs media or those working in corrupted governmental agencies and Feudal Lords of Industry’s hirelings at so-called Philanthropic Institutions funded by the profiteering polluters.

I say this as with a month left until Presidential elections we’ve had not one nationally televised policy debate among panelists representing the Duopoly’s party platforms. We are all complicit in our pandemic stupor and before that in our distracted stupor for further enabling our Body Politic’s Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases in our national failure to allocate any broadcast time or press “news hole” for reviewing the policy outcomes that got U.S. here. No scoreboards and broad commentary, analyses and public discussion of pre and post EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) foundation results during the Nixon Administration when the EPA was created. Likewise no evening news scoreboard as with sports reporting on who the winners\losers were of the policies that elevated Private Interests over the Public Interest in what both or our Duopoly political parties embraced during the Cold War decades as weaponized Neo-Liberal E-CONomic policies that promoted at tax-payer subsidy expense the perspective that serves the tiny investor class called Wall Street at Main Street’s expense.

Namely that GREED IS GOOD for all of U.S. if it benefits entrepreneurial objectives and individual speculative outcomes (unregulated Hedge Funds and Wealth Management ventures notwithstanding) that personally profit those who paid for the politician and legislators to use our Public Airwaves and commercial news media to advance their own Private Interests. Leaving the rest of WAGE SLAVE CLOCK PUNCHERS to pick up the bill for any environmental and\or medical and life sciences clean up, which will then be contracted out via Public\Private Partnerships (an un-examined dogma and doctrine of the same weaponized Neo-Liberal E-CONomic doctrines that didn’t end when the Cold War rivals in China and the Soviet Empire took to state-sponsored ‘FREE TRADE’ and unfettered (regulated) Global Capital provided U.S. with CHEAP LABOR around the world of impoverished woe to satisfy our ballooning consumer demand.

Millennials I listen to as often as I can, they tend to get promoted over me at work and so attention to them is thankfully forced upon me, allow me to better understand within my own flawed and self-serving perspective to consider where the often outspoken generation of action is centered today, civically, ethically and morally. As in taking many “streets” of leading American cities like PoTown, Ore here along with Seattle, Wa where Main Street has been wiped out by our Justice System’s institutionalization of Pay2Play policies that include a half century moratorium on prosecuting Anti-Competitive and Anti-Trust corporate crime and malfeasance.

That is the generation of today’s Mothers’ March on our spanking new and weaponized U.S. Federal building and the corrupt so badly built State of Oregon administrative building that is now making new contractors rich to repair the lop-sided floors when the first crony contracts were awarded in Salem and PoTown even before these young mothers and babes in arms were born. They are the ones more than my generation of Wage Slave Clock Punchers who are standing up to insist across ethnic, race, religious and political identity lines that Black lives like all lives matter and are holding Law Enforcement accountable for the monopoly on bearing military arms that they’ve been entrusted with. Black Lives and Lives of People of Color and White People of few means are not any bit less worthy of public protection than those who’ve inherited family wealth, skin pigment and\or a military deferment and tax-avoided place at the levers of policy-making control of life-giving resources like breathable air and drinkable water that sustains rather than sabotages life.

These 2 books by Working Class sheroes of THESE TIMES working from within corrupted institutions should be read and the books as widely proliferated and distributed as the military weapons and private high tech security global markets are flooded with subsidized product by Daddy Warbucks. Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha the public pediatric doctor and WHISTLE BLOWER working within the Public Health system in Flint, Michigan via her refugee parents from Iraq and regional investigative reporter Anna Clark whose investigative reporting was overlooked by national news gate-keepers for years of public poisoning were both published in 2018 after the long-term struggles and much human sacrifice and child sacrifice in the cities designated as Neo-Liberal E-CON Pay2Play Sacrifice Zones by our feudal lords of high finance\tech, industry, public health, housing and urban development, big ag and big pharma, trans national life sciences and transport. Most critically these Sheroes were de-professionalized and their work by-passed for national attention and policy correction by our feudal lords of Pay2Play CyberSpace and TELECOMM. ttps://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/10/flint-water-poisoned-city-what-eyes-dont-see-review

Thanks again for speaking up CarolEllison, reading widely of news reporting and doing the hard work of sifting and recapping in a comprehensive and focused way most appreciated new CD reporter Brett Wilkins and the PUBLIC CITIZEN folks for making COMMON DREAMS possible.

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters, Code Shifters and Atonement Seekers
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
Media Discussion List and Looksee


Before, I was only depressed.

But wouldn’t argue with any of it.


Why I am an eco-socialist who will, nevertheless, vote against the monsters in this administration. We owe it to all of Life and to the rest of our own species across our common home.

Thank you for telling it as it actually is.


As someone who is a strong advocate for a reduced US and World Population (100 mil and 2-3 bil respectively), there is absolutely no arguing that there is no potential to reduce the population in anywhere near the time frame that one can address the high consumption of rich people (of which I’m in the transition region - not world wide 1% but definitely world wide 10% as are many people in the US - about 1/3 of us: ~https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/07/how-much-money-you-need-to-be-in-the-richest-10-percent-worldwide.html).

Basically if you want to move away from market based solutions (I’ve always wanted a hefty carbon tax), even progressive ones (such as tiered billing for power which I’ve never been crazy about because if I want to charge my EV at home without paying upfront for a separate meter, I get bumped to a higher tier yet using electricity over gas is supposed to be preferred), this means rationing. I’m theoretically OK with this concept, but it is not gong to be an easy sell. But it is worth talking about - and maybe some aspects of our free market can get changed such that rich people can’t consume an arbitrary amount of anything if they have the money.

A US and a world with less obscene variance in wealth is preferred - but does that actually reduce CO2/capita? What if as poor people get richer, their increased usage completely offsets the reduced CO2 from rich people getting poorer. There are other reasons to prefer this type of world, but it may not necessarily improve the CO2 story.

Started watching Cowspiracy on Netflix recently and whether or not some facts need tweaking based on results since then, it seems quite clear that plant based diets would have a clear positive effect on climate and many other environmental issues (land use, water quality, soil erosion, etc.). I don’t think we can make any one change to solve environmental problems if they are solvable, but we should be open minded to a large number of potential solutions.


Cowspiracy is fantastic, and sad, as is Earthlings.
Lifestyle changes for all humans, not just in developed countries, would result in a significant net reduction of pollution, ecosystems/biodiversity loss, urbanization, noise, etc.
Too bad for us all that the world economy is based on infinitely expanding population coupled with infinitely expanding consumption and trashing of our finite biosphere:(


More trickle down.

p.s. added exclamation point ~https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2020/09/21/fracking-and-petrochemicals-create-fewer-pennsylvania-jobs-clean-energy

1 Like

Damn 1% and their cigars.
Since we got non smoking bingo anything is possible.

There is a lot of resource extraction- of all kinds- happening around the world, a lot of it in 3rd wortld countries where the citizens recieve very little benefit yet those operations often have significant effects on the environment.


Off-topic: Greta at age 2 is way cute!

On-topic: It would be good if, instead of a straight carbon tax, we could somehow have a graduated carbon tax where if the wealthy really want to unthinkingly blow vast amounts of carbon dioxide around, they have to pay through the nose. If they merely want to have a low-carbon good time, a penny saved is still a penny earned. So, how about paying zero carbon tax for absolute necessities and then quite a bit for a 50 foot long motor yacht, depending on the motor’s horsepower.

Having said that, I recognize that the graduated income tax has now been turned on its head. Warren Buffet pays only 50% of the percentage of taxes that his secretary pays.

welcome to the 6th Great Extinction–brought to us by the greed of our corporate classes and their lackeys-our politicians, the main stream media, and our citizens who wish to remain ignorant so they can continue their planetary destruction for the short term comfort they have now–the control of the future with the “let the kids eat cake- I got mine mentality”–we used to put the people who presented a danger to themselves and others in mental institutions–now we let them run wild and become presidents and such

1 Like

you will get your planetary reduction in population–from the collapse of our ecosystems–will not be pretty and will not end until all life on this planet is DEAD–welcome to the 6th Great Extinction being brought to us by greed, ignorance and apathy


When an entire culture refuses to believe it has anything to do with what is occurring, it cannot do anything about what is occurring .

1 Like

Global carbon fee-and-dividend would make the rich pay because, as the article says, the world’s richest 63 million were responsible for 15% of global CO2 emissions, while the poorest half emitted just 7%.
That would mean that a global carbon tax or fossil fuel fee would result in the richest 1% paying at least 15% of the tax while the poorest 50% would pay only 7% - and that ignores the fact that the rich tend to own more shares in fossil fuel companies than the poor, so they would pay even more.
The dividend portion of global carbon fee-and-dividend would result in everyone sharing equally in the revenue generated by the tax or fee, encouraging a huge worldwide market for alternative sources of energy.

Well, to be accurate, USans are the biggest emitters. I don’t think that the Americans in the rest of North America or the Americans in Central or South America care to be tarnished with that, since it does not apply to them.

I also found Greta Thunburg as a two year old super cute.

I agree about having a carbon tax, but suspect it might be better to stick with just basing the tax rate on the weight of carbon content of emissions, like so much per ton of carbon in the emissions. I wonder if it would work to measure carbon content of emissions, and levy and collect the taxes monthly, and deposit the money in a national bank account to sit on until government is sure of the amount. Maybe over a ten year or maybe twenty year period government could collect enough money and deposit it in interest paying accounts to manage on the interest without collecting any more tax.

The 1% use more.
Who didn’t know that?
This is why we don’t have a Global Climate Change Treaty.
The 1% own the US government outright, and that’'s what James Madison meant for the Constitution to do by empowering the “rich and well-born” - the 1%. The US has been blocking the treaty forever, and Paris was the first time it didn’t. The 1% determines what policy it will allow and which it won’t.
This is why we have austerity and the 1% has another Gilded Age at our expense - and the planet’s ability to support life.
We’re not the only country with a 1%, but we have the most profligate.
Don’t blame it on we, the people.
The 1% starts at $100,000 per year income.
Many of us, more and more of us, seek to reduce our carbon footprint by keeping up with it by means of a carbon footprint calculator. Search on it as there are a lot of them out there now.
We reduce our carbon footprint so the 1% doesn’t have to reduce theirs, but now that everyone in the world (who wants to) knows this about the 1%, they may feel compelled to get on their own CFC.