Financial inequality is a major obstacle to combatting climate change

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Maanantai 15.4.2024 klo 18.01 - Mikko Nikinmaa

A lot of people in the rich countries complain about African and Asian people not doing virtually anything to decrease their fossil fuel use. In contrast, coal and oil use is increasing, as people try to get richer and population increases, mostly in Africa. Why don’t they see that they are increasingly causing climate change, whereas we in the rich west have understood how things should be done, and have been able to decrease the per capita footprint in the last decade.

The prime reason for poor people not considering carbon footprint or sustainability in their day-to-day financial decisions is that thy cannot afford it. For most people in the world, their financial situation only allows one choice: the cheapest. Thus, their lack of climate deeds is understandable, but is actually one aspect of financial inequality generating climate change.

The superrich cause much of the climate change. Although their number is small, their carbon footprint is huge. The richest percent of world’s population causes as much carbon dioxide emissions as the poorest two thirds. As compared to an average American or European, the carbon footprint of billionaires is a thousand times greater. An in actual fact the superrich would hardly notice if their wealth were halved. However, if the sums were made available to combatting climate change, that would probably be enough to enable poor people make sustainable choices in their life.

Thus, decreasing financial inequality would be the most effective way of combatting climate change. Another way would be to decrease military spending, which, unfortunately, seems even less likely than addressing financial inequality.

Avainsanat: fossil fuels, wealth, carbon footprint

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