17 March 2020   1 comment

Research published in the journal Nature Energy (the article is paywalled–for those who wish to buy it, the link it here) which provides data which confirms what is intuitively obvious: the rich are the primary contributors to the process of climate change. The BBC reports:

“The rich are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, a study by the University of Leeds of 86 countries claims.

“The wealthiest tenth of people consume about 20 times more energy overall than the bottom ten, wherever they live.

“The gulf is greatest in transport, where the top tenth gobble 187 times more fuel than the poorest tenth, the research says.

“That’s because people on the lowest incomes can rarely afford to drive.

“The researchers found that the richer people became, the more energy they typically use. And it was replicated across all countries.

“And they warn that, unless there’s a significant policy change, household energy consumption could double from 2011 levels by 2050. That’s even if energy efficiency improves.”

The rich travel more often and disproportionately take longer airline flights. They also have larger homes which require more energy to heat. The breakdown by countries is illustrative:

“It shows that a fifth of UK citizens are in the top 5% of global energy consumers, along with 40% of German citizens, and Luxembourg’s entire population.

“Only 2% of Chinese people are in the top global 5% of users, and just 0.02% of people in India.

“Even the poorest fifth of Britons consumes over five times as much energy per person as the bottom billion in India.”

The information provides a very compelling case for reducing income and wealth inequality, as well as targeting the most energy-intensive activities as the ones that should be discouraged, primarily through higher taxes on things such as air transportation. The Center for Biological Diversity quantifies the role of airplane emissions: “Airplanes could generate 43 gigatonnes of planet-warming pollution through 2050, consuming almost 5 percent of the world’s remaining carbon budget, according to a new Center report…..Aircraft emit staggering amounts of CO2, the most prevalent manmade greenhouse gas. In fact they currently account for some 11 percent of CO2 emissions from U.S. transportation sources and 3 percent of the United States’ total CO2 emissions. All told, the United States is responsible for nearly half of worldwide CO2 emissions from aircraft.” Needless to say, the rich would likely try to block their activities, but the planet can ill-afford their selfishness.

The European Union (EU) has announced that it will close all Schengen borders for 30 days. The Schengen agreement, adopted in 1985, allowed the free movement of people and goods throughout the EU and is applied by 26 members (although Great Britain will end its participation when the final Brexit Agreement is signed). The move is in response to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and it will undoubtedly create difficulties for the Union (imagine the chaos if all fifty US states placed border controls on each other). Europe is emerging as the center of the COVID-19 crisis:

“Italy, the worst-hit country outside of China, has recorded a total of 23,073 positive cases and 2,158 deaths, in figures released by its health ministry on Monday. Some 2,749 have recovered.

“Spain, the next most affected, posted an extra 1,438 cases today, bringing its total to 9,191, while Germany has 6,012 – up 1,174 from yesterday – and suffered 13 deaths.

The move is a symbolic blow to the idea of European unity. We should all hope that the action slows down the spread of the virus, but it may already be too late to make much of a difference.

Posted March 17, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “17 March 2020

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  1. Omfg….. i NEVER respond to ANYTHING…. but the “rich” are responsible for climate change… please gimme a break… YOU are lucky enough to be alive in this speck of time… called evolution. Enjoy, love while you can and help thy neighbors in time of need

    Like

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