Climate inequality

November 2023

Oxfam report highlights climate inequality

The richest 1 per cent of the world’s population produced as much carbon pollution in 2019 as the five billion people who made up the poorest two-thirds of humanity, according to a report published by Oxfam on 20 November ahead of the UN Climate Summit, COP28.

The report, Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%, is based on research with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). It assesses the consumption emissions of different income groups, highlighting the stark gap between the carbon footprints of the super-rich —whose carbon-hungry lifestyles and investments in polluting industries like fossil fuels are driving global warming— and the rest of the world.

The study shows there is also vast inequality in how the impacts of the rapidly changing climate are felt. It is people living in poverty; marginalised groups such as women and Indigenous Peoples; and low-income countries, who have done the least to cause it, who are suffering the worst consequences – and who are least able to respond or recover.

Read more below

Illustrated blog  by Paul Foster, Oxfam campaigns in the United Kingdom

Report summary  PDF

Full report  PDF

Report introduction
The world faces twin crises of climate breakdown and runaway inequality. The richest people, corporations and countries are destroying the world with their huge carbon emissions. Meanwhile, people living in poverty, those experiencing marginalization, and countries in the Global South are those impacted the hardest. Women and girls, Indigenous Peoples, people living in poverty and other groups experiencing discrimination are particularly at a disadvantage. The consequences of climate breakdown are felt in all parts of the world and by most people, yet only the richest people and countries have the wealth, power and influence to protect themselves. With that power comes huge responsibility.

If no action is taken, the richest will continue to burn through the carbon we have left to use while keeping the global temperature below the safe limit of 1.5°C, destroying any chance of ending poverty and ensuring equality. The world needs an equal transformation. Only a radical reduction in inequality, transformative climate action and fundamentally shifting our economic goals as a society can save our planet while ensuring wellbeing for all.


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