“The super-rich are plundering and polluting the planet to the point of destruction, leaving humanity suffocated by extreme heat, floods and drought,” said Amitabh Behar, acting executive director of Oxfam International. said in a press release Monday. He called on world leaders to “end the era of extreme wealth.”
According to the Oxfam report, carbon emissions from the world’s richest 1 percent exceeded the amount generated by all global automobile and road transport in 2019, while the richest 10 percent accounted for half of global carbon emissions that year. Meanwhile, emissions from the richest 1% are enough to knock out the operation of almost a million wind turbines each year, Oxfam said.
“None of this is surprising, but you know, it’s crucial,” said David Schlosberg, director of the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney. As political actors prepare for this year’s United Nations climate conference, Schlosberg said the Oxfam report offers a different way to discuss climate justice beyond the sensitive topic of how some industrialized countries have contributed to global warming.
“This is a major problem in climate justice: countries do not want to pay for what they have done in the past,” he said. “So what’s interesting here is: OK, let’s not talk about historical responsibility, but current responsibility.”
The solution recommended by Oxfam is not new, but it is one that climate activists continue to fight for: tax the richest and use that money to invest in renewable energy.
According to the Oxfam report, which calls for a new round of taxes on corporations and billionaires, “a 60% tax on the income of the richest 1% would reduce emissions by more than the UK’s total emissions.” United and would raise $6.4 trillion per year. » to finance the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
In recent years, some have also floated the idea of taxing carbon-intensive behaviors, such as buying or using private jets, yachts and high-end fossil fuel cars.
Over the summer, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) proposed a tax on private jet travel, calling on the wealthy to “pay their fair share” of environmental costs. Last year, Canada imposed a 10 percent tax on the purchase of planes, boats and luxury cars. And in recent years, celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Drake and Taylor Swift all faced negative public reactions for use of private jets, Jenner’s plane once registered a 14 minute flight.
“The public understands inequality, and the public understands inequality related to the impact of climate change,” Schlosberg said. “…Specific taxes on high-emission behavior are gaining public support, so I have seen in a number of countries the growing pressure to do something.