Study: World’s Richest 1% Derailing Paris Agreement Climate Goals

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 18: Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos presents the company's first smartphone, the Fire Phone, on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The much-anticipated device is available for pre-order today and is available exclusively with AT&T service. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
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The richest one percent of humanity is on track to release 70 metric tons of CO2 per person per year in the near future, or an amount of carbon dioxide “30 times greater” than what is compatible with maintaining global warming below an international consensus threshold of 1.5 Celsius, the Guardian reported Friday citing a new study by Oxfam.

The world’s richest one percent constitutes a population smaller than that of Germany, which is home to more than 84 million people. This elite demographic “will account for 16 percent of total [CO2] emissions by 2030, up from 13 percent of emissions in 1990,” according to Oxfam’s study. “Meanwhile, the poorest 50 percent will be releasing an average of one tonne of CO2 annually.”

Oxfam referenced an international climate change treaty known as The Paris Agreement. The legally binding document was adopted by 196 states at the 2015 United Nations (U.N.) Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris and went into effect in November 2016.

“Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels,” according to the U.N.

Oxfam’s new research demonstrates that “the fight to keep 1.5C within reach is not being hampered by the consumption of most people on the planet, but by the excessive emissions of the world’s richest citizens,” according to Tim Gore, who authored Oxfam’s November 5 study titled “Carbon inequality in 2030: Per capita consumption emissions and the 1.5C goal.”

“Even the total emissions produced by the richest 10 percent could be sufficient to exceed the amount allocated for keeping within the 1.5C targets by 2030 – regardless of what the other 90 percent of the population does,” Gore noted.

The U.N. is currently holding its 2021 Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, with the event slated to last through November 12. Dozens of world leaders and heads of state have gathered at the event since October 31, ostensibly to discuss ways in which their home countries may work to curb CO2 emissions. A number of the summit’s delegates arrived in Glasgow via private planes, including U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prince Charles, and U.S. billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“Private jets owned by the world’s elite have descended on Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nation’s COP26 climate conference, filling up local airfields and angering environmentalists,” Business Insider reported on November 2.

The event has drawn roughly 400 private planes to Glasgow over the past week, according to Scotland’s Sunday Mail.

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