Study: Wealthiest 1 percent of global elites emit as much carbon as 5 billion people

by WorldTribune Staff, November 20, 2023

The wealthiest 70 million people on planet Earth are spewing as much carbon as five billion people, according to an analysis published on Sunday by the nonprofit Oxfam International.

While lecturing everyone else about their carbon footprints, that 1 percent of the Earth’s population is enjoying flights on private jets, excursions on private yachts, multiple vacations a year, having garages full of luxury vehicles, and investing and profiting from high polluting fossil fuel industries, the study said.

A typical private jet emits carbon at a rate of 4.9 kilograms per mile. For comparison, the average person emits about 0.6 metric tons of CO2 per year and a commercial airplane emits about 85 grams per passenger per kilometer.

Max Lawson, who co-authored the study, said the key message is that policy moves must be instigated to curb the very richest who claim to care for the planet but are betrayed by their very actions.

“We think that unless governments enact climate policy that is progressive, where you see the people who emit the most being asked to take the biggest sacrifices, then we’re never going to get good politics around this,” he said.

Yard, a UK-based sustainability marketing agency, published an analysis in 2022 based on flight data of the celebrities with the worst private jet emissions. Taylor Swift topped the list at more than 170 flights, totaling up to 15.9 days in the air, and 8,293.54 metric tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent in energy used of over 1,000 homes in the U.S. for one year.

A 2018 analysis found the yacht owned by Roman Abramovich, the billionaire who built a fortune off of trading gas and oil, for example, was responsible for 22,440 metric tons of carbon emissions that year—the same as the emissions released by over 4,800 gasoline cars driving for a year in the U.S.

In a report on the Oxfam study, Agence France Presse (AFP) noted that, in France, the richest one percent in that country emit as much carbon in one year as the poorest 50 percent in 10 years.

Excluding the carbon associated with his investments, Bernard Arnault, the billionaire founder of Louis Vuitton and the richest man in France, has a footprint 1,270 times greater than that of the average Frenchman, the AFP report said.

The Oxfam report was published as world leaders and other global elites prepare to fly in for climate talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai later this month.

More than 70,000 global elites, including activists, billionaires, presidents, indigenous leaders, Hollywood entertainers, business executives, monarchs and diplomats, will be pumping out tons more carbon as they jet to Dubai’s Expo City for COP28 starting on Nov. 30.

Though he may not be among the 1 percent asset-wise, BBC reporter Richard Bilton is not taking a back seat on carbon spewing.

Bilton flew to Europe, the Middle East, and the United States for one episode of BBC One’s Panorama in which he claimed “the world is saying one thing and doing another” on climate change.

Analysis by The Telegraph suggests that Bilton could have racked up around 20,000 air miles, taking flights to Dubai, Alaska, California, and Berlin for the program, which was aired on Nov 13.

At the most conservative estimate, this would have produced around 5.4 tons of CO2, more than the average person produces in a year and the equivalent to driving an average car for 18 months.

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