The rich continue to spoil the element of surprise. Report after report, the observation remains the same: the richest are the main polluters, and the poorest, the main victims of global warming. This time, Oxfam has decided to focus on these climate inequalities. According to a new report published Sunday November 19 (here in French), the richest 1% on the planet, or 77 million people, emit as much greenhouse gas as the poorest 66%, or around 5 billion people.
Responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions is therefore not completely the same for everyone. In France alone, the disparities are unequivocal. Part of the report of Oxfam France lists the data collected for France: the richest 1% would have emitted as much carbon in one year as the poorest 50% in ten years.
In France, the average is 9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person per year, but the disparities are obvious when income levels are compared. A French person among the poorest 50% would today consume 3.8 tons of CO2 per year, while a French person among the richest 0.01% would emit 261 tons of greenhouse gases per year. . The NGO recalls that, to achieve carbon neutrality, the objective is not to exceed 2 tonnes of CO2 emitted per person per year on average.
But the comparison doesn’t stop there. Oxfam France does not hesitate to point out the excessive consumption of the richest Frenchman, Bernard Arnault, who alone accumulated 10,421 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2018, or as much as 1,158 French people. Data driven from a study by two American anthropologists, Richard Wilk and Beatriz Barros, the figure is dizzying. And yet it’s not the worst. In this ranking of the 20 most polluting billionaires in the world, Bernard Arnault only comes in fourth position.
Even if we exclude the emissions associated with their investments, the ultra-rich lead an extraordinary lifestyle. Looking at the list of billionaires Forbes, the two researchers listed their possessions: private jets, yachts, cars, homes and their movements, like those of any other individual. The undisputed champion remains the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, with a score of 31,199 tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2018. And he is well ahead of Bill Gates (10th position), Jeff Bezos (18th) and Elon Musk (19th) . The Russian’s lifestyle is in fact akin to an ecological disaster, with around ten homes, his private Boeing 767, and the oligarch is infamous for his gigantic yachts, the Solaris and the Eclipse, the longest in the world. world.
In addition to planes, large boats also play a role in global warming. If Bernard Arnault appears in fourth place in this ranking, it is because of his yacht Symphony, which alone represents 86% of the billionaire’s emissions. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos do not own ships, which explains their rather low position in this top 20, despite their fortune, among the highest in the world.
From this observation, Oxfam has drawn up a list of restrictive measures intended for the richest only, because “the richer you are, the easier it is to reduce your emissions” judges the NGO in its report. “The majority of carbon emissions from the richest 1% come from luxury goods and services. […] No one needs, for example, to fly often, to use private jets or yachts, to own many homes., estimates Oxfam France. To force them to be a little more sober, the NGO advocates, among other things, for a climate ISF, a tax on kerosene, a car penalty for the most polluting cars or a fairer carbon tax. If the ecological transition can sometimes be difficult to access for the poorest, the rich no longer really have an excuse.