The Richest Increase Emissions

An important part in the mission of Responsible Consumption is to make research and information more accessible to the general public. A part of that is to summarize studies and publish them here and in our newsletters. We offers summaries in different fields of research. After every summary is a link to the study. On this site you can read about inequality and how the richest increase emissions.


Carbon: How calls for climate justice are shaking the world

Helen Briggs, BBC, 2021

The world’s poor affected harshest by climate change:

Helen Briggs’ article takes off from a speech held by Xiye Bastida, a Fridays for Future- activist, who like Greta Thunberg speaks of how intertwined social justice and climate justice are. Briggs discusses further dimensions of climate justice, especially the historical one. It emphasizes the global inequalities in emissions, where more developed countries have and continue to be overrepresented and have thus caused much of the changes to the climate we see today. Furthermore, it is these impoverished and less developed countries in the Global South that will be the most affected by climate change, which is considered an injustice. The inequalities become clear when the author describes statistics about emissions. The emissions emitted from the richest 1% is larger than the combined emissions the poorest 50% account for. And the inequalities don’t end there. The author relays how much more vulnerable poor people are when it comes to natural disasters. For example, the poorest 20% in Nigeria are in comparison to the average Nigerian:

  • 50% more at risk to be affected by a flood
  • 130% more at risk to be affected by a drought
  • 80% more at risk to be affected by a heatwave

This is of course not unique to Nigeria, and it is further described how poor people in Bangladesh, India and Honduras are affected by floods and storms two to three times harder than the rich.


The right policies are essential:

Climate reforms are said to risk pushing an additional 50 million people into poverty by the year 2030. This is explained further by the researcher Dr Bjoern Soergel, who points out that climate efforts with the purpose of reaching net zero have the risk of raising prices on food and energy, which would affect poor people to a greater extent. That is why Soergel has created policy suggestions that would both fight climate change and lessen extreme poverty. He proposes a sort of taxation on the usage of fossil fuels, which creates a lot of emissions. Governments should then redistribute this money on a per capita basis to countries where many live in extreme poverty. He means that this would take into account the fact that richer and more developed countries historically have emitted more and therefore had a greater impact on climate change, and the injustice that it poses. Furthermore it is these countries that have the economic and technical means to fight climate change.


The CEO of Ashden, a charity organization working for sustainable energy, Harriet Lamb describes how efforts for greener habits risks exacerbating socioeconomic inequalities. She describes the importance of creating and implementing the right kind of policies that fight both social and climate inequalities, because the two are “absolutely intertwined”.


Carbon: How calls for climate justice are shaking the world, BBC