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Study Finds Rich Primarily Responsible For Climate Change

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Climate change: The rich are to blame, international study finds

  • 16 March 2020

The rich are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, a study by the University of Leeds of 86 countries claims.

The wealthiest tenth of people consume about 20 times more energy overall than the bottom ten, wherever they live.

The gulf is greatest in transport, where the top tenth gobble 187 times more fuel than the poorest tenth, the research says.

That’s because people on the lowest incomes can rarely afford to drive.

The researchers found that the richer people became, the more energy they typically use. And it was replicated across all countries.

And they warn that, unless there's a significant policy change, household energy consumption could double from 2011 levels by 2050. That's even if energy efficiency improves.

Transport gulf

The researchers combined European Union and World Bank data to calculate how different income groups spend their money. They say it’s the first study of its kind.

It found that in transport the richest tenth of consumers use more than half the energy. This reflects previous research showing that 15% of UK travellers take 70% of all flights.

The ultra-rich fly by far furthest, while 57% of the UK population does not fly abroad at all.

The study, published in Nature Energy, showed that energy for cooking and heating is more equitably consumed.

But even then, the top 10% of consumers used roughly one third of the total, presumably reflecting the size of their homes.


Co-author Professor Julia Steinberger, leader of the project at Leeds, asked: “How can we change the vastly unequal distribution of energy to provide a decent life for everyone while protecting the climate and ecosystems?”

The authors say governments could reduce transport demand through better public transport, higher taxes on bigger vehicles and frequent flyer levies for people who take most holidays.

They say another alternative is to electrify vehicles more quickly, although previous studies suggest even then demand for driving must be reduced in order to reduce the strain on resource use and electricity production and distribution.

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Right about now people are fretting about their investments, and of course their 401K's.

I would say, on the bright side, we are all tied into this together.

Which is the same way I feel about climate change.

We know that if we stopped all the carbon emission today, the damage is likely great

and will take a long long time to correct, longer than our lifetimes.

But, and this is the good news, methane emissions if they could be eliminated

soon, would make a huge change in the climate disaster, even rolling back

a decent part of the problem, which is something well worth fighting for




If we got on with doing something big about climate change now we actually

could do future generations a big solid.


Pollution kills. Life for anyone is far far better with less air pollution, less

pollution of fresh water, or pollution of the oceans. Back around the

turn of the twentieth century, what ever ails you could be cured by

a trip to the mountains, where that mountain air was fresh and clean.

It's true, that's what the rich folk would say back then.



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