125 billionaires emit as much CO2 as whole France


125 billionaires emit as much CO2 as whole France


Oxfam, a poverty alleviation organization, found that the investments of 125 of the world’s richest individuals have a carbon footprint equivalent to the emissions of France.

The report, titled Carbon Billionaires: The investment emissions of the world’s richest people, was published to coincide with COP27, the climate conference held in Egypt, where discussions on climate finance and resilience are expected to take center stage.

The study looked at the investment patterns of the world’s richest elite in 183 corporations and found that their stakes added up to $2.4 trillion. These investments alone are responsible for emitting 3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, over a million times as much as the average emissions of an individual who doesn’t make up the wealthiest 10%.

The findings suggest that 14% of the investments owned by the billionaires fell under “polluting industries,” including fossil fuel and cement. Only one of the billionaires in the sample had renewable energy investments.

 "The major and growing responsibility of wealthy people for overall emissions is rarely discussed or considered in climate policy-making. This has to change. These billionaire investors at the top of the corporate pyramid have a huge responsibility for driving climate breakdown. They have escaped accountability for too long,” Nafkote Dabi, Climate Change Lead at Oxfam, said.

People from low- and middle-income backgrounds have little choice in carbon consumption. But Oxfam argues that the wealthier sections of the population are well-positioned to make climate-conscious choices.

The report also found that aside from wealthy individuals, many corporations were moving away from their climate objectives by setting unrealistic near-term goals while promising to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The report concluded that a hefty tax should be levied on investments made in polluting industries. “The super-rich need to be taxed and regulated away from polluting investments that are destroying the planet," Dabi stressed.

Oxfam estimates that a wealth tax on the world’s super-rich could raise close to $1.4 trillion a year, which can then be used to finance the climate-related efforts of developing nations with fewer means to take action.

It also highlighted a few billionaires as examples of investors can who contributed to benefit the environment, such as Yvon Chouinard, outdoor sportswear company Patagonia’s founder, who placed the company’s ownership in a trust to fight against climate change.

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