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CO2 emissions and social inequality

CO2 emissions and social inequality

These are the totals reached by the French economist Lucas Chancel, in a report on ” Inequality in global carbon emissions From 1990 to 2020, published October 21. Chancel is co-director of the Global Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics.

In absolute numbers, this gives an average of 31 tons of carbon dioxide per capita in 2019 for the richest 10%, versus 1.6 million tons for the poorest half of the population (or 3.8 billion people). As for the richest 1%, they end up with an average of 110 tons of carbon dioxide per capita.

And what doesn’t help is, “Since 1990, emissions have increased 1% faster than emissions of any other group.” This, despite the economic growth in many of the so-called emerging countries.

The inequality itself is unevenly distributed by continent: average emissions in Europe, rich and poor alike, are close to 10 tons of carbon dioxide per capita in 2019, compared to 20 tons in North America. China is close to Europe, with 8 tons per capita. In North America, the richest 10% produced 73 tons of emissions.

The author suggests These numbers indicate the importance of a carbon tax, which will not target the largest emitters as much as the richest segment of the population. “In many rich countries, the per capita emissions of the poorer half of the population have declined since 1990, unlike in the richer countries.” As a result, the emissions reduction targets set by the United States, Great Britain and France have already been achieved in practice for the poorer half of the population. The document states that “in these countries, policy efforts should largely be directed towards reducing emissions levels in the top half of the population, particularly the top 10%.”

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A 10% tax on the value of carbon assets held by millionaires around the world would, according to the Inequality Lab, generate $100 billion annually. This is exactly the proposed contribution in 2009 of rich countries to help poor countries mitigate the effects of climate change. The contribution in question, after 12 years of effort, has not yet reached that far.