Carbon emissions and inequality

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discovolante
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Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by discovolante » Tue Dec 08, 2020 11:26 am

Two different news reports of what appears to be the same study, published two months apart, here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... says-oxfam


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/h ... 67733.html

Link to press release and report here: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases ... f-humanity

Any thoughts?
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by sTeamTraen » Tue Dec 08, 2020 10:53 pm

Disclosure: I haven't read the report, so I don't know what the methodology was.

My first reaction was "That seems like a large imbalance". There's only so much gas you can guzzle per day in your Ferrari and so many bedrooms to heat in your empty mansion.

But then I saw "Globally, the richest 10% are those with incomes above about $35,000 (£27,000) a year, and the richest 1% are people earning more than about $100,000", so it's not mansions and Ferraris, it's comfortable lifestyles, not worrying about the cost of running the A/C and going on long haul fiights. It doesn't seem unreasonable that those people could indeed produce a lot of CO2. I also wonder (again, without reading the report) whether they attribute CO2 out from industry to the shareholders in that industry, who will often be global 1%-ers (even in the form of pension plans, rather than the plutocrat local [0.]1%-ers)

However, I wonder if this tells us more about the bottom 50% (who are people who will never get on a plane and burn fossil fuels in a scooter at best). I would be interested to see how much the other segments emit; I suspect that the bottom 50% might be 5% of global CO2, say, with the top 1% being 10% of CO2, and the majority being the middle classes, who will soon make up close to half the world's population. If that's the case, it would remind me of discussions about how much we should tax the rich: Taxing the rich [more heavily] is fine as a social justice measure, but it will never produce enough money to run the country in the way that 1-2p on income tax will. Similarly, if you banned flights to the Maldives or cars over 200bhp, the 1%'s share of CO2 might go down a bit, or even quite a lot, but what's might really make a difference would be if everyone in the top 30% moved 10km closer to where they work (if that's not too pre-COVID a line of reasoning) or some other intervention that gets a benefit out of 2.5 billion people x365 days per year.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by sTeamTraen » Tue Dec 08, 2020 11:04 pm

Ah, here we are.
The richest 10% of the world’s population (c.630 million people) were responsible for 52% of the cumulative carbon emissions – depleting the global carbon budget by nearly a third (31%) in those 25 years alone (see Figure 1);

• The poorest 50% (c.3.1 billion people) were responsible for just 7% of cumulative emissions, and used just 4% of the available carbon budget (see Figure 1);

• The richest 1% (c.63 million people) alone were responsible for 15% of cumulative emissions, and 9% of the carbon budget –
twice as much as the poorest half of the world’s population (see Figure 1);

• The richest 5% (c.315 million people) were responsible for over a third (37%) of the total growth in emissions (see Figure 2), while the total growth in emissions of the richest 1% was three times that of the poorest 50% (see Figure 6).
So if the top 1% produce 15 carbons and the top 10% produce 52, the 9% below the 1% produce 37, or 4 per percentile on average, versus 15. That seems high. The richest 10% probably make $30k/year, and people well below that own cars.

I found this in the methodology box:
We assume, based on numerous studies at national, regional and global levels, that emissions rise in proportion to income, above a minimum emissions floor and to a maximum emissions ceiling. These estimates of the consumption emissions of individuals in each country are then sorted into a global distribution according to income.
Hmmm. I think the idea that emissions rise linearly with income is contestable. (They also don't tell us what the ceiling is.) So basically they aren't measuring CO2 at all, they're converting income into CO2 using some unclear formula and then telling us that if their formula is correct, it means that the top 1% emit 15% of the CO2. But this seems to be flirting with circular reasoning.

And again, the global top 1% start at $100k/year. That's not "private jet" or "super yacht" territory, which is more like the global 0.1% or less, but those items are mentioned as things that could be taxed. I'm all in favour of taxing them, but it isn't going to make that much difference to total CO2.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by jimbob » Wed Dec 09, 2020 8:22 am

sTeamTraen wrote:
Tue Dec 08, 2020 11:04 pm
Ah, here we are.
The richest 10% of the world’s population (c.630 million people) were responsible for 52% of the cumulative carbon emissions – depleting the global carbon budget by nearly a third (31%) in those 25 years alone (see Figure 1);

• The poorest 50% (c.3.1 billion people) were responsible for just 7% of cumulative emissions, and used just 4% of the available carbon budget (see Figure 1);

• The richest 1% (c.63 million people) alone were responsible for 15% of cumulative emissions, and 9% of the carbon budget –
twice as much as the poorest half of the world’s population (see Figure 1);

• The richest 5% (c.315 million people) were responsible for over a third (37%) of the total growth in emissions (see Figure 2), while the total growth in emissions of the richest 1% was three times that of the poorest 50% (see Figure 6).
So if the top 1% produce 15 carbons and the top 10% produce 52, the 9% below the 1% produce 37, or 4 per percentile on average, versus 15. That seems high. The richest 10% probably make $30k/year, and people well below that own cars.

I found this in the methodology box:
We assume, based on numerous studies at national, regional and global levels, that emissions rise in proportion to income, above a minimum emissions floor and to a maximum emissions ceiling. These estimates of the consumption emissions of individuals in each country are then sorted into a global distribution according to income.
Hmmm. I think the idea that emissions rise linearly with income is contestable. (They also don't tell us what the ceiling is.) So basically they aren't measuring CO2 at all, they're converting income into CO2 using some unclear formula and then telling us that if their formula is correct, it means that the top 1% emit 15% of the CO2. But this seems to be flirting with circular reasoning.

And again, the global top 1% start at $100k/year. That's not "private jet" or "super yacht" territory, which is more like the global 0.1% or less, but those items are mentioned as things that could be taxed. I'm all in favour of taxing them, but it isn't going to make that much difference to total CO2.
More or less looked into a claim by George Monbiot.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... meat-dairy
Why is this figure so high? Because we eat so much meat and dairy. The Nature paper estimates that the carbon cost of chicken is six times higher than soya, while milk is 15 times higher and beef 73 times. One kilo of beef protein has a carbon opportunity cost of 1,250kg: that, incredibly, is roughly equal to driving a new car for a year, or to one passenger flying from London to New York and back.
The numbers were the right order of magnitude, but slightly on the high side for the meat eating.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by bjn » Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:08 am

There’s a bunch of reasons I’m veggie, and those numbers form one of the big ones. It’s not as if similar figures on the carbon emissions of meat haven’t been around for a while.
Last edited by bjn on Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by bjn » Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:08 am

double post

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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Dec 09, 2020 2:27 pm

bjn wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:08 am
There’s a bunch of reasons I’m veggie, and those numbers form one of the big ones. It’s not as if similar figures on the carbon emissions of meat haven’t been around for a while.
Me too.

Reports like this come out every year, people act all incredulous for a few weeks, and then do nothing. Climate denial is mainstream now.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by sTeamTraen » Wed Dec 09, 2020 7:39 pm

bjn wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:08 am
There’s a bunch of reasons I’m veggie, and those numbers form one of the big ones. It’s not as if similar figures on the carbon emissions of meat haven’t been around for a while.
Hence my skepticism that the problem is the top 1%. I get how it's an easy win to bash a group that the vast majority of people don't belong to (see also "multi-generational poverty voyeurism TV" at the other end of the scale), but the top 1% don't eat all that much more meat and dairy than the rest of the top 50%. I don't think we have much chance of reversing that in practice, first because the middle class, worldwide, is expanding a lot faster than we can convert people to discretionary vegetarianism, and second because being able to eat meat more often is an aspirational goal, at least in most of the Muslim and (nominally) Christian world.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by dyqik » Wed Dec 09, 2020 8:53 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 7:39 pm
bjn wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:08 am
There’s a bunch of reasons I’m veggie, and those numbers form one of the big ones. It’s not as if similar figures on the carbon emissions of meat haven’t been around for a while.
Hence my skepticism that the problem is the top 1%. I get how it's an easy win to bash a group that the vast majority of people don't belong to (see also "multi-generational poverty voyeurism TV" at the other end of the scale), but the top 1% don't eat all that much more meat and dairy than the rest of the top 50%. I don't think we have much chance of reversing that in practice, first because the middle class, worldwide, is expanding a lot faster than we can convert people to discretionary vegetarianism, and second because being able to eat meat more often is an aspirational goal, at least in most of the Muslim and (nominally) Christian world.
In the US, at least, I'd postulate that the members of the top 10th to 6th percentiles (i.e. those with a household income roughly around the US median to twice the US median, based on your figures above) eat more meat than the members of the 5th to 1st (those with household incomes around double or higher of the US median). Massive steaks, triple burgers, etc. is more of a status symbol in the US just above median group than in the top group.

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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:13 am

I think two different statistics are getting confused here.

The article says
The wealthiest 1% of the world’s population were responsible for the emission of more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorer half of the world from 1990 to 2015, according to new research.
and also
The richest 10% of the global population, comprising about 630 million people, were responsible for about 52% of global emissions over the 25-year period, the study showed.
So, the 1% are flying multiple times a year vs. the poorest half not flying in an average year, that kind of thing. The top 1% eat meat every meal instead of once a day or once a week.

Then, we have have most emissions coming from the top 10%. To put that roughly in perspective, the USA + EU population is roughly 10% of the world, and those people in general live in a more carbon-intensive way than the rest of the world. Subtract the poor from those territories, add the global rich, and you've got a back-of-the-envelope confirmation of that figure too.

Basically, if you have regular contact with aircraft or food from cows, you're probably causing a bigger slice of the problem. Good news: both of those things are very easily avoided, via personal choice or (better) via policy.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:41 am

To quantify those percentiles:
Globally, the richest 10% are those with incomes above about $35,000 (£27,000) a year, and the richest 1% are people earning more than about $100,000.
So, if you earn £27,000 or more, then
If left unchecked, in the next decade the carbon emissions of the world’s richest 10% would be enough to raise levels above the point likely to increase temperatures by 1.5C, even if the whole of the rest of the world cut their emissions to zero immediately, according to Monday’s report.
that's you, that is. I think it's quite remarkable that a small economic cohort alone determines whether or not the world can meet the Paris pledges. In a way, everyone with an above-average salary in the UK is their own Donald Trump - they have a tiny hand in the problem ;)



I think the substantive point of the article is considerably more interesting than quibbling over percentages:
Oxfam argues that continuing to allow the rich world to emit vastly more than those in poverty is unfair. While the world moves towards renewable energy and phases out fossil fuels, any emissions that continue to be necessary during the transition would be better used in trying to improve poor people’s access to basic amenities.

“The best possible, morally defensible purpose is for all humanity to live a decent life, but [the carbon budget] has been used up by the already rich, in getting richer,” said Gore.

He pointed to transport as one of the key drivers of growth in emissions, with people in rich countries showing an increasing tendency to drive high-emitting cars, such as SUVs, and take more flights. Oxfam wants more taxes on high-carbon luxuries, such as a frequent-flyer levy, to funnel investment into low-carbon alternatives and improving the lot of the poor.

“This isn’t about people who have one family holiday a year, but people who are taking long-haul flights every month – it’s a fairly small group of people,” said Gore.

While the coronavirus crisis caused a temporary dip in emissions, the overall impact on the carbon budget is likely to be negligible, according to Gore, as emissions have rebounded after lockdowns around the world. However, the experience of dealing with the pandemic should make people more aware of the need to try to avert future catastrophe, he said.

Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, said: “This is a stark illustration of the deep injustice at the heart of the climate crisis. Those who are so much more exposed and vulnerable to its impacts have done least to contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing it. The UK has a moral responsibility here, not only because of its disproportionately high historic emissions, but as hosts of next year’s critical UN climate summit. We need to go further and faster in reaching net zero.”

Lots of people already feel pretty bad about our ancestors' hands in empire and slavery and so on. Think how our descendants are going to feel that we literally flooded entire nations of the map because we liked city breaks and hamburgers too much.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by sTeamTraen » Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:46 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:41 am
To quantify those percentiles:
Globally, the richest 10% are those with incomes above about $35,000 (£27,000) a year, and the richest 1% are people earning more than about $100,000.
So, if you earn £27,000 or more, then
If left unchecked, in the next decade the carbon emissions of the world’s richest 10% would be enough to raise levels above the point likely to increase temperatures by 1.5C, even if the whole of the rest of the world cut their emissions to zero immediately, according to Monday’s report.
that's you, that is. I think it's quite remarkable that a small economic cohort alone determines whether or not the world can meet the Paris pledges. In a way, everyone with an above-average salary in the UK is their own Donald Trump - they have a tiny hand in the problem ;)
Yeah, and the other 30-40% who already have a fridge and an air conditioner are going to be getting joined by the people in the 50th to 80th percentile in the next couple of decades. Which in one way is human progress, but I don't see anyone in the West giving up any aspect of their standard of living without a fight, perhaps literally.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:13 pm

Not if the fridges and a/c are powered by renewables instead of fossil carbon. Loads of nations are developing along a low-carbon pathway.

But that'll be too late if the current top 10% emit more than the world's remaining carbon budget, which is what they're on track to do at the moment. There is a serious risk that the privileged are going to f.ck up the planet for everybody else.

It's also a totally false dichotomy to suggest the choice is between standard of living and carbon emissions, not to mention a damaging narrative.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by bjn » Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:26 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:13 pm
It's also a totally false dichotomy to suggest the choice is between standard of living and carbon emissions, not to mention a damaging narrative.
Absolutely this. I’ve argued with random other folk that being sustainable does not equal being hair shirted living in a mud hut on nothing but lentils. The future has to be high tech, otherwise it won’t sustain us all, it can be vibrant and comfortable if we properly manage resources and use them sensibly.

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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Dec 11, 2020 2:19 am

bjn wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:26 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:13 pm
It's also a totally false dichotomy to suggest the choice is between standard of living and carbon emissions, not to mention a damaging narrative.
Absolutely this. I’ve argued with random other folk that being sustainable does not equal being hair shirted living in a mud hut on nothing but lentils. The future has to be high tech, otherwise it won’t sustain us all, it can be vibrant and comfortable if we properly manage resources and use them sensibly.
I'm not sure it is a false dichotomy. Most articles I read about cutting emissions emphasise things like less flying, less driving, or even less meat. These are things which are definitely part of a standard of living. Where once people went to the seaside in England for a holiday, they now fly to Spain. Driving means more flexibility over where you work, so more pay or a nicer job. Similarly getting the bus to work rather than walking or cycling. It's easier if you are single as you can move closer to the job, but otherwise where you live has to be a compromise, more so if you have children.

But the talk of the top 1% is a bit misleading. From the Oxfam press release at http://oxfamapps.org/media/96h9d we learn that the average emissions are 0.58 Gt in 2018. From https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-b ... ssions-law we find that the target is 20% of 1990 emissions and that we are now at 38%. That means that the average emissions must drop to about 0.30 - but from the Oxfam press release we see that the bottom 50% are currently responsible for 0.17, so to get that to 0.15 it means a slight drop assuming the top 1%, 10% and next 39% all very drastically make cuts so that everyone is perfectly equal.

Of course there are ways to resolve this. Maybe technology advances mean that this is achievable, but that must be just the right amount of advances - too little and we fail to meet the target, while too much and the effort was excessive.
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Oct 23, 2021 1:03 pm

New report on:
Climate Change & The Global Inequality Of Carbon Emissions
https://wid.world/news-article/climate- ... emissions/

Importantly:
In many rich countries, per capita emissions of the poorest half of the population have declined since 1990, contrary to that of wealthier groups. Current emissions levels of the poorest half the population are close to per-capita 2030 climate targets in the US, the UK, Germany or France. In these countries, policy efforts should therefore be largely focused on reducing emissions levels of the top half of the population and in particular of the top 10%.
In Europe the most wealthy 10% account for 29.2 tonnes of emissions per capita. Whereas the bottom 50% account for just 5.1 tonnes per person.

So focus upon consumption by the richest people.

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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Stephanie » Fri Oct 29, 2021 8:05 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:41 am
To quantify those percentiles:
Globally, the richest 10% are those with incomes above about $35,000 (£27,000) a year, and the richest 1% are people earning more than about $100,000.
Can't believe I'm not even in the richest 10% lmao (although I would have been, full time, tbf)
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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Nov 05, 2021 9:00 am

The world’s richest 1% are set to have per capita consumption emissions in 2030 that are still 30 times higher than the global per capita level compatible with the 1.5⁰C goal of the Paris Agreement, while the footprints of the poorest half of the world population are set to remain several times below that level. By 2030, the richest 1% are on course for an even greater share of total global emissions than when the Paris Agreement was signed. Tackling extreme inequality and targeting the excessive emissions linked to the consumption and investments of the world’s richest people is vital to keeping the 1.5⁰C Paris goal alive.
https://policy-practice.oxfam.org/resou ... al-621305/

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Re: Carbon emissions and inequality

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Nov 05, 2021 9:33 am

On the same report:
The richest 1% – which is a population smaller than Germany – are on track to be releasing 70 tonnes of CO2 per person a year if current consumption continues, according to the study. In total they will account for 16% of total emissions by 2030, up from 13% of emissions in 1990. Meanwhile, the poorest 50% will be releasing an average of one tonne of CO2 annually.

“A tiny elite appear to have a free pass to pollute,” said Nafkote Dabi, climate policy lead at Oxfam, which commissioned the study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). “Their oversized emissions are fuelling extreme weather around the world and jeopardising the international goal of limiting global heating,” she said.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... ting-limit

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