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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.”
By Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer As Maui, Hawaii begins its “managed retreat” from its coastline due to sea-level rise caused by climate change, the county filed a lawsuit this week against big oil companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips to pay the costs of the move. The suit alleges that the companies knew […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer New research published Monday shows that climate change has significantly impacted Florida’s housing market, and it has been quietly doing so for nearly a decade. Despite the common, false assumption that a climate housing crisis is largely a future threat, research shows that climate change has already impacted communities […]
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