As another year of extreme weather disasters draws to a close, a new report from the World Inequality Lab shows how disproportionately culpable the world’s richest people and nations are for climate pollution. This inequality is perhaps best illustrated by the equivalence between the climate pollution produced by one billionaire’s nine-minute joyride into space and the lifetime carbon emissions of 1 billion people. The world’s richest people have become more, and disproportionately more, wealthy in recent decades and that trend has accelerated during the pandemic. “Global inequalities seem to be about as great today as they were at the peak of western imperialism in the early 20th century,” the report said.
The uneven impacts of climate change will “exacerbate global inequalities, which are already very high,” Lucas Chancel, lead author of the report, told Yahoo. “Poorest countries like Bangladesh or Small Island States will be hit very hard by rising sea levels or extreme weather events. In rich countries, the poorest groups of the population are also more vulnerable to floods or forest fires induced by climate change, because they have fewer resources to recover after their homes are destroyed.” (WIL report, climate: Yahoo, E&E $, The Hill, Fortune, Seattle Times; WIL report, wealth: BBC, CBS, Fast Company; Year of disasters: National Geographic; Commentary: The Guardian, Lucas Chancel op-ed)