The investments of the world’s 125 richest people emit 393 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, a million times more than those in the bottom 90 per cent of income. humanity, says a new study by the anti-poverty coalition Oxfam.
Nafkote Dabi, the coalition’s climate change leader, stated that “these few billionaires together have ‘investment emissions’ that are equivalent to the carbon footprints of entire countries like France, Egypt or Argentina”.
Dabi said that “emissions from billionaire lifestyles, their private jets and yachts are thousands of times higher than the average person, which is already completely unacceptable.”
“And if we also look at the emissions from their investments, then their carbon emissions are a million times higher,” he added.
For the head of Oxfam, “this has to change. These investors at the top of the corporate pyramid bear a heavy responsibility for driving the climate meltdown. They have escaped responsibility for far too long.”
Emissions from billionaire lifestyles
The investments of the 125 billionaires studied add up to 2.4 trillion dollars and throw into the atmosphere an annual average of three million tons of CO2 per person, one million times more than the 2.76 tons that are the average for 90% of the planet’s inhabitants.
The true figure is likely to be even higher, since according to Oxfam the carbon emissions published by companies systematically underestimate the true level of carbon impact, and there are companies and billionaires, probably responsible for a high climate impact, who do not disclose their emissions.
“The emissions from billionaire lifestyles, their private jets and yachts are thousands of times higher than the average person, which is already completely unacceptable. And if we also look at the emissions from their investments, then their carbon emissions are a million times higher”: Nafkote Dabi.
The Oxfam study was released to coincide with the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is being held in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh.
Oxfam used publicly available data to calculate the “investment emissions” of billionaires with more than a 10% stake in a corporation, allocating them a share of the reported emissions of the corporations they invest in proportion to their stake.
Unlike the average person, studies show that the world’s richest people invest up to 70% of their emissions.
Global climate crisis
The study also found that billionaires had an average of 14% of their investments in polluting industries such as energy and materials such as cement, twice the average of the Standard and Poor’s 500 ratings.
Only one billionaire in the sample had investments in a renewable energy company.
The investment choices billionaires make are shaping the future of the economy. For example, by supporting high carbon infrastructure they ensure high emissions for decades to come.
The study found that if the billionaires in the sample moved their investments into a fund with stricter environmental and social standards, they could reduce their emissions intensity by up to four times.
“We need COP27 to expose and change the role that big corporations and their wealthy investors are playing to profit from the pollution that the ccc is causing,” Dabi said.
He maintained that “they cannot be allowed to hide or put on green makeup. We urgently need governments to address this by publishing the emissions figures of the richest people, regulating investors and companies to reduce carbon emissions, and taxing wealth,” he added.
Oxfam has estimated that a wealth tax on the world’s super-rich could raise $1.4 trillion a year, resources that could help developing countries, those hardest hit by the climate crisis, adapt, address losses and damage and carry out a just transition to renewable energy.
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNEP), adaptation costs for developing countries could rise to $300 billion per year by 2030. Africa alone will require $600 billion in the 2020-2030 period.
Oxfam is also calling for much higher tax rates for investments in polluting industries, to discourage such investments.
- Sarbal Village: A hamlet in Kashmir waiting for development
- Farmers in MP face crop failure every year due to climate change
- Climate Change: Kishanganga Dam causes water concerns