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Top 1% of Global Elites Emit as Much Carbon as Bottom 66%

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The richest 1 percent of the world’s population produce as much carbon as the bottom 66 percent, a new study shows. Critics who rail against the hypocrisy of wealthy global elites jet-setting on carbon-spewing private planes, while pontificating about the need for the rest of us to cut our climate footprints, just got a boost from a new study. It turns out that the world’s richest one percent emit about the same amount of carbon as the world’s poorest two-thirds, according to an analysis from the nonprofit Oxfam International. This means that a small sliver of global elites, or 77 million people, have produced as much carbon as the five billion people that make up the bottom 66 percent by wealth, per the study.

Further, the study estimates that it would take roughly 1,500 years for someone in the bottom 99 percent to produce as much carbon as the wealthiest billionaires do in just one year. The study was based on research compiled by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and examined the emissions of various income groups up to 2019. In summary, it suggested that the private jet-setting class of global leaders and policymakers, who take private planes to lead summits addressing the assumed dangers of climate change, may warrant charges of hypocrisy.

The analysis was published as global leaders prepare to meet for climate talks at the COP28 summit in Dubai later in November where, much like other climate conferences, some elite participants will likely pontificate on the need for ordinary folk to end their reliance on cheap fossil fuel energy to make their ends meet.

‘Ludicrous Hypocrisy’ Global leaders and policymakers fixated on fighting the supposed ills of carbon emissions due to models predicting dangerous climate change have often drawn criticism for their use of carbon-spewing private jets. Related Stories For instance, private jet use during last year’s meetings in Davos, Switzerland, pushed up carbon emissions by four times over the average week. During the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos between May 22–26, 2022, 1,040 private jets flew in and out of airports serving Davos, according to a January report by Greenpeace. The number of jets going in and out of Davos doubled during that week, resulting in 9,700 tons of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to roughly 350,000 average cars. The majority of these jets were attributed to private flights undertaken by participants for the WEF meeting. Klara Maria Schenk, a transport campaigner for Greenpeace’s European mobility campaign, called the private jet use at Davos a “distasteful masterclass of hypocrisy” given that WEF claims to be committed to the Paris Climate Target of keeping the climate warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“Davos has a perfectly adequate railway station, still these people can’t even be bothered to take the train for a trip as short as 21 km. Do we really believe that these are the people to solve the problems the world faces?” Ms. Schenk said. It was much the same story for the 2021 COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where around 400 or so global leaders showed up on private jets, according to the Daily Mail. “All this for ‘climate’ negotiations that obviously could have been done just as easily over Zoom or something similar for the negligible results that emerge,” wrote award-winning novelist Roger L. Simon, a contributor to The Epoch Times, in an op-ed titled “The Ludicrous Hypocrisy of Climate Conferences Continues.” ‘Climate Czar’ In Crosshairs Private jets are estimated to emit 10 times more carbon dioxide per person compared to commercial flights and roughly 50 times when compared to trains. In total, aviation accounts for around 2 percent of carbon emissions globally. Criticism over his use of a private jet to fly to climate summits may have been a factor in the decision of the family of John Kerry, special climate envoy of President Joe Biden, to sell the family’s private airplane. Mr. Kerry drew criticism when, in 2019, he flew on a private jet to Iceland to accept an award for his climate leadership. According to some estimates, a round trip to Iceland by private jet would emit about 90 tons of carbon. By comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that a typical passenger vehicle produces about 4.6 tons of carbon in a year.

Mr. Kerry’s family quietly sold off its Gulfstream G-IV jet last summer. However, Mr. Kerry has defended his use of a private jet while being a prominent figure seeking to draw attention to climate change. In 2021, Mr. Kerry defended his decision to fly to Iceland to accept the climate change leadership award. “If you offset your carbon, it’s the only choice for somebody like me, who is traveling the world to win this battle,” Mr. Kerry said at the time. The president’s special climate envoy drew criticism from Republican lawmakers. “I’m not sure flying across the world in a private jet while simultaneously trying to put the workers who supply your fuel out of a job is a winning strategy as climate czar,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) wrote in a post on X, referring to reports about Mr. Kerry’s remarks. Naveen Athrapully and Ryan Morgan contributed to this report.

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