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Climate Change Part 1: Why do rich people have a higher carbon footprint?

A study carried out by the University of Leeds of 86 countries, claims that the rich are to blame for the global climate crisis according to an article produced by the BBC. Full article here

The researchers found that the wealthier people became, the more energy they typically use. This study produced the same results across all countries.

They warn that, unless there is a significant policy change, household energy consumption could double from 2011 levels by 2050.

It further goes on to say that the wealthiest tenth of people consumes about 20 times more energy overall than the bottom ten, wherever they live.

Transport constitutes a significant portion of this consumption, whether that be in driving or flying. If you think about it, poor people on the lowest incomes rarely can afford to drive while the ultra-rich tend to be frequent fliers.

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 Research suggests that 15% of UK travellers take 70% of flights, while 57% of the UK population does not fly abroad at all. Overall, 20% of UK citizens are in the top 5% of global energy consumers, along with 40% of German citizens, 2% of Chinese people and 0.02% of people in India.

The energy used in cooking and heating we find makes up the other half of consumptions levels. The size of your home tends to be proportional to your energy level usage, so we can presume again that rich people tend to have more prominent sized homes which in effect consumes a lot of energy for space and water heating.

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Having said all this, if you consider yourself to be wealthy (high-income earner), should you feel wrong about your lifestyle and how it is affecting the environment?
Based on research, there is a potential solution to this climate change problem which we apply to different types of energy use.

So, flying and driving big cars could face higher taxes, while energy consumed in homes will see a reduction by a housing retrofit, i.e. more insulation (floor, wall and loft)

In conclusion, there are two significant takeaways from this. Our consumption is the leading cause of climate change which we break down into two categories; Transport and Household water/space heating. In our next post, we will break this down further and provide potential practical solutions to our consumption needs.


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