Inequality and climate crisis: two aspects, one problem?

According to a new Oxfam study, the carbon footprint of 12 billionaires is as large as that of 2.1 million households. The richest one percent of humanity - according to Oxfam those who earn more than 140,000 dollars a year - produce as much greenhouse gas as the poorest two-thirds. Commentators discuss the implications of these findings.

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Milliyet (TR) /

No rescue without social justice

Milliyet is angry that normal citizens are paying the price for the ignorance of the rich:

“According to the research results, the carbon footprint of the richest one per cent is larger than that of the poorest 66 per cent. In other words, the super-rich elite are polluting the world disproportionately. We bear the consequences. While the richest do as they please, the rest are constantly warned about the climate crisis: don't use plastic bags, buy electric cars, protect the environment, save water. ... The world doesn't have a climate problem, it has a billionaire problem. The problem cannot be solved without eliminating the system that creates these billionaires and without ensuring justice on the climate issue.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Higher taxes for the polluting elite

The Irish Examiner also sees twin crises:

“This study pinpointed how the 1 percent live climate-insulated lives and accounted for 16 percent of all CO2 emissions in 2019, which made them responsible for immense suffering and for causing as many as one million deaths due to heat. ... This is a case of twin crises, with inequality and climate each appearing to fuel the other, and if the world is to properly address the issue, both will have to be tackled. Hefty wealth taxes on the super-rich and windfall taxes on fossil fuel companies would be a good starting point and would begin the process of allowing the world to transform its chances of tackling both inequality and climate issues.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

States and companies must act, not individuals

The debate initiated by Oxfam is shifting the focus to secondary issues, criticises Sydsvenskan:

“It is states that must comply with the Paris Agreement, not individuals. It is companies, industries and technologies that need to change. The injustices associated with the climate crisis are well known. That is why the Paris Agreement stipulates that the transition must be just and socially sustainable. ... Oxfam wants to initiate a discussion about a climate tax for the richest - instead of focussing entirely on effective measures against emissions, climate adaptation and aid for those affected.”