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Why this matters: While the wealthiest indulge in luxuries that contribute more to climate change, a federal report found that the poor will be among the earliest victims of climate crises and will be impacted the most. There is also structural inequality when it comes to solutions. “Better-resourced communities have created climate offices and programs, while the response has lagged in smaller or poorer communities,” the report explained, causing “green gentrification” in which poorer residents are pushed out of the protective range of these programs. Thus, the poorest communities — which are generally Black or brown — will be left without the resources to combat climate disasters fueled by the wealthy.
According to the Guardian, the richest 1% are people earning more than about $100,000 annually. Researchers at the University of Leeds found that as income level rises, demand for high intensity, luxury goods increase as well. These goods include long-distance travel by air, prompting proposals for a carbon tax on frequent flyers. The list also includes new vehicles, vehicle fuel, and extra household appliances. In recent years, SUV’s have become the most popular vehicle in the United States; SUV’s are popular among the wealthy, consume more gas than compact cars, and were the second largest contributor to rising global carbon emissions between 2010 and 2018. As opposed to amenities like water and heat which are considered high intensity yet basic amenities, these luxuries cause vast amounts of CO2 emissions at the expense of those who cannot afford them.
Climate experts say we may have less than 17 years before we’ve exhausted our “carbon budget” and the global average temperature reaches 2 degrees Celsius, leading to a severe rise in natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, drought, and a rise in global poverty levels. Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam’s chief executive in the United Kingdom, said of the study, “The over-consumption of a wealthy minority is fuelling the climate crisis and putting the planet in peril. No one is immune from the impact but the world’s poorest are paying the heaviest price despite contributing least emissions as they battle floods, famines and cyclones.”
World leaders spoke out yesterday on the state of the planet and the message was clear — we must stop taking the natural world for granted. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “the state of the planet is broken,” our attitude about it is “suicidal,” and then he spent more than 10 minutes cataloging our global “crimes against nature.”
Why This Matters: Guterres implored the world to make 2021 a “leap” year — a year in which individuals, businesses, and governments make a “quantum leap” towards carbon neutrality, and when more women leaders are at the table and they take decisive action to begin to cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Contributing Writer What is “normal”? This rather philosophical question — especially in 2020 — has concrete answers in weather science that can skew how we think about climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) records climate normals as an average of the past 30 years, with updates made every […]
Why This Matters: Europe’s pledge to reach neutrality by 2050 is a legal commitment that guides banks, policies, and decision-making. Each of the EU’s 27 countries must now write its own plan for how to reach these targets.
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