According to a report by British charitable organization Oxfam, the world’s 10% richest individuals are responsible for producing more than half of the Earth’s destructive fossil fuel emissions. Additionally, the poorest half of the world only contributes 10% of all fossil fuel emissions. This goes to show the disproportional responsibility for causing damage to the environment.
The report from Oxfam comes as representatives from 195 countries worldwide are meeting at the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris. The purpose of this summit is for world leaders to collaborate on ways to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent climate change.
One major problem that has come with making changes is that not many countries want to take responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases. Another issue involves offering aid to countries that are most strongly affected by climate change.
Additionally, environmental practices are often overridden by the “free-rider problem”, where countries enjoy the benefits of the efforts of other countries while contributing little themselves. This gives countries few incentives to make proper changes.
Climate policy leader of Oxfam Tim Gore said in a statement, “Rich, high emitters should be held accountable for their emissions, no matter where they live. But it’s easy to forget that rapidly developing economies are also home to the majority of the world’s very poorest people, and while they have to do their fair share, it is rich countries that should still lead the way.”
According to the Oxfam report, an individual who is amongst the world’s richest 1% typically emits about 175 more carbon than an individual in the bottom 10%. As a result, poorer nations say that wealthier countries should bear more of the burden when it comes to making changes.
But still, wealthier countries are reluctant to take responsibility. Additionally, developing countries want aid from rich countries so that they can make changes of their own. However, wealthy nations such as the United States say that is unfair that obligations should be placed on some countries and not on others. Although rich countries such as the United States are some of the largest polluters per capita, it is excessively populated countries like China that are typically the biggest polluters overall.
That being said, it’s the world as a whole that is responsible for pollution. Instead of trying to pass off the blame and the responsibility, every country should be doing their part to help decrease pollution. If a compromise isn’t reached soon, it might be too little too late for future generations.