p>As part of the Climate Desk partnership, this article was originally published by the Guardian and is being reprinted here.
According to recent data, the top one percent of income in the UK release as much carbon dioxide in a single year as the least ten percent do over the course of more than two decades.
The data show the vast differences in carbon footprints between the bulk of people, even in industrialized nations, and what has been referred to as the polluting elite, whose high-carbon lifestyles feed the climate problem.
According to Autonomy’s analysis of income and greenhouse gas data from 1998 to 2018, those earning 170,000 or more in the UK in 2018 were responsible for far more greenhouse gas emissions than the 30% of people earning 21,500 or less in the same year. It would take a low earner 26 years to produce as much carbon dioxide as the richest do in a year.
Before the Covid-19 epidemic and lockdowns, which interrupted high-carbon activities like flying, the time covered by the dataset ends in 2018.
According to Autonomy, the UK could have raised approximately $126 billion by now if it had begun taxing carbon emissions from just the top 1% of income groups two decades ago. This money could have been used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an equitable manner, such as by insulating homes for lower-income households.
The huge gap needs to be closed, according to Peter Newell, a professor of international politics at the University of Sussex who was not part of the Autonomy report but has done substantial research on the polluting elite.
He said reading this new analysis on the advantages of taxing high carbon emitters is shocking. It is obvious that we are not all in this together as we approach a crucial climate summit [Cop27] in Egypt and face an unparalleled cost of living problem.
We would have been able to refit over 8 million houses with the money produced from a carbon tax on the wealthiest top 1% of the population, keeping us warm this winter and lowering fuel costs while also giving essential support for renewable energy and reducing our reliance on Putin’s gas.
The gap between rich and low earners in terms of greenhouse gas emissions is not unique to the UK. An expanding collection of evidence suggests that there is a polluting elite, whose lives are very dissimilar from those of the majority of people. This is true for both established and developing nations, where the poorest often contribute very little to greenhouse gas emissions while the richest have an influence that is comparable to that of the top 1% of wealthy nations.
Read More: In the First Two-Thirds of 2022, Renewables Provided About 25% of Us Electrical Generation.
For instance, less than half of individuals in the UK fly in any given year. However, 1% of the population is accountable for a fifth of all international flights taken from the UK.
The carbon footprints of the wealthiest people are significantly bigger due to factors including flying, driving big, costly cars, having numerous properties and moving between them, eating a diet high in meat imports, purchasing more clothing, and shopping for imported luxury goods. Poorer individuals spend less money on luxuries and products like quick fashion and prefer to live closer to home in modest homes and commute by public transportation.
The extraordinary release of carbon emissions by the very richest people in society over the past few decades, according to Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, is astounding. According to our findings, the government should adequately tax the wealthy through a well-targeted carbon tax program in order to combat climate change.
Taxes on the most polluting activities could only be levied against the wealthy and wouldn’t have to worsen the high cost of living for the vast majority of people. They might also assist in filling the UK’s public finances’ gaping hole.
However, despite these activities’ negative environmental effects, the government has chosen to lower taxes on them.
Strong said that if the government doesn’t address the reality that the wealthy are disproportionately responsible for the climate catastrophe, the efforts made by the majority of people—such as turning off lights to conserve energy—would be ineffective.
Read More: How Solar Farms in Space Could Send Power to Earth.!
The Green Party’s co-leader, Adrian Ramsay, said: At Cop26 last year, the Green Party urged the UK to demonstrate true global leadership by enacting a carbon tax. This paper shows how such a tax may be a crucial tool for accelerating the shift to a cleaner, greener economy.
But it is also just that a wealth tax is levied on the top 1% of UK earners, who are disproportionately to blame for a significant percentage of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
A little tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of households might raise in the neighborhood of 70 billion and be used to support a large portion of a national program for home insulation, making homes warmer, and more comfortable, and cutting down costs permanently. The poorest 10%, who are least responsible for the UK’s carbon emissions, stand to gain the most from such a levy.