The decline in CO2 emissions in the European Union since 1990 can be attributed to the more frugal life of Europeans with lower or middle incomes, reports Oxfam Novib in a new report. The richest ten percent of the population actually emitted more CO2 in the same period.
Oxfam warns that the richest group of EU citizens must have cut their consumption by 90 percent by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. This is generally viewed as a sustained rise in global temperature.
Heating the house before car and air travel
Oxfam reaches the conclusions by examining public data on CO2 emissions in EU countries between 1990 and 2015 and on income distribution in those countries. During this period, CO2 emissions in the EU fell by 12 percent. However, this seems to be mainly due to the poorest half of EU citizens with an annual income of up to 20,000 euros. They have reduced their CO2 emissions by 24 percent.
Europeans with an income of up to 41,000 euros per year caused 13 percent fewer emissions in the same period. Europeans with an annual income of more than 41,000 euros (around ten percent of the population) emitted three percent more CO2, mainly due to increasing air and road traffic, reports the non-governmental organization that fights against poverty and inequality.
“Fair distribution of the load”
The richest 10 percent of EU citizens now emit as much CO2 as the poorest half, according to the report. There’s also a big difference between EU countries, says Oxfam. The richest ten percent of Spaniards, Germans, Italians and French, around 26 million people together, emit as much CO2 as the total population of 16 other EU member states, around 85 million people together.
“The reduction of CO2 emissions has so far been raised by poorer Europeans,” said Oxfam researcher Tim Gore, “while the rich have not done their part. Now everyone must contribute to a greater reduction in the years to come.” The yellow vests in France show how quickly climate protection measures can lead to problems if they are not based on a fair load sharing. “