As wealth soars so do emissions; it’s time to tax wealth.

It’s been another month and another year of record breaking levels of CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere. We’re all aware of the disastrous consequences increased emissions will have on planetary survival but we are less clear on who has the biggest responsibility when it comes to not only the production of these emissions but also for fixing the issue. With increasing emissions showing no signs of slowing down, it’s time for the biggest emitters to step up – and pay up – to do their part in decreasing emissions whilst also combating global wealth inequality.

 

The often ignored inequality

Global income inequality and global wealth inequality are widely discussed issues globally, highlighting the great injustices in society and act as motivators for many keen activists and philanthropists. Yet there is a less discussed inequality which is tightly connected to these two issues; carbon emission’s inequality, the richest in society are producing far greater levels of carbon emissions then the rest of society. Chapter 6 of the World Inequality Report shows us the damnning extent of this emission inequality, with the top 10% of global emitters producing close to 50% of all emissions, whilst the bottom 50% of society produces just 12%. A UN report places the top 1% of earners as producing close to 15% of all emissions.. It must be noted that this unequal distribution of carbon emissions is not a Developed vs Developing nation issue, there remains great emission inequality between the wealth groups amongst all nations. The uncomfortable truth of the situation is that despite the wealthiest of societies being the ones producing the most emissions, pushing us further down the path of climate change, it is the poorest globally are paying the greatest price. This IMF report and UN paper goes on to further report that the risks presented by increasing climate change disproportionately affects not only the poorest countries but the poorest populations; primarily due to economic activities dependent on a healthy climate, agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. With increasing destructive weather patterns associated with a declining climate, lower income countries specifically do not have the economic power and access to public resources to help those affected by losses associated with extreme weather events. 

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