Oxfam: Billionaires Must Be Held to Account on Climate

125 richest people emit 1M times more carbon than average person in bottom 90%
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2022 11:35 AM CST
Oxfam: Billionaires Must Be Held to Account on Climate
   (Getty - Vasyl Dolmatov)

Global charitable organization Oxfam has issued a new report analyzing the investments and associated carbon footprints of the world’s 125 richest individuals. In short, according to CNBC, the report shows the average billionaire’s annual emissions are one million times greater than those of a person in the "bottom 90% of humanity," financially speaking. By accounting for the billionaires’ sprawling investments—many of which include big stakes in fossil fuels, cement, and other pollution-heavy industries—researchers found that each of the world’s 125 richest individuals dumps 3 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere annually. That compares to 2.75 tons for the average person in the lower 90%.

Danny Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam GB, pointed to the report in a press release directed at world leaders at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. "The role of the super-rich in super-charging climate change is rarely discussed," Sriskandarajah wrote. "This has to change. These billionaire investors at the top of the corporate pyramid have huge responsibility for driving climate breakdown. They have escaped accountability for too long." The report provides an apt segue into a major topic of debate at this year’s summit: the notion that rich countries should compensate poor countries for costs associated with climate change.

CNN reports the concept known as "loss and damage" has been on the bargaining table for years, but rich countries have balked for fear that filling such a fund will amount to admission of liability, exposing them to potential legal action. The tiny island nation of Tuvalu became the first country at COP27 to call for an “international fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty” to phase out all fossil fuel use, per the Guardian. But that proposal got pushback from other poor nations, including Senegal, whose President Macky Sall said his country can’t afford a shift to renewables and must receive aid to help it adapt to a new climate reality. “Let’s be clear, we are in favor of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," Sall said, per Reuters. "But we Africans cannot accept that our vital interests be ignored." (More United Nations Climate Summit stories.)

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