The Emissions Divide Report
A recent study by the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) reveals significant disparities in carbon emissions between residents of developed and developing countries. The findings shed light on a rich-poor divide both within and among nations, with the average per capita carbon emissions in developed countries surpassing those of the wealthiest 10% in certain developing countries.
Wealth Disparity in Carbon Emissions
The study highlights that many developed countries exhibit higher per capita carbon emissions than the richest 10% in developing nations like Argentina, Brazil, India, and the ASEAN region. Strikingly, the top 10% in developing countries, excluding Mexico and South Africa, emit nearly the same amount of carbon dioxide as individuals in the lower deciles of developed nations, including Australia, Canada, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.
Stark Contrasts in Carbon Footprints
Individuals in the bottom 10% income bracket of developed countries have carbon footprints six to 15 times higher than those in the poorest decile of India, Brazil, or the ASEAN region. The study underscores the substantial carbon emissions disparities even within income groups, emphasizing the complexity of the global carbon landscape.
Disproportionate Impact of Top Income Groups
The per capita carbon footprint of the top 1% and the top 10% income groups in developed countries is significantly higher, ranging from four to eight times greater than their counterparts in developing nations. This stark difference in carbon emissions highlights the environmental impact of wealth disparity on a global scale.
Potential for Emission Reductions
The report advocates for the adoption of low-carbon lifestyles among the richest, suggesting that encouraging sustainable practices can lead to substantial emission reductions. If the wealthiest 10% in developed countries and China were to halve their carbon footprint, over 3.4 billion tonnes of CO2 could be saved annually, according to the study.
Carbon Tax as a Mitigation Strategy
The study proposes the implementation of a carbon tax on the top 10% of developed countries and China, potentially generating $500 billion. Such a tax could discourage carbon-intensive consumption patterns, offering funds for climate change mitigation, research and development, and building resilience.
Urgent Call for Sustainable Lifestyles
Emphasizing the urgent need for developed countries and China to embrace sustainable lifestyles, the study urges these nations to vacate carbon space for developing countries. The findings underscore the importance of accountability, long-term climate finance, and conscious consumption to address global carbon inequalities.