The rich are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, a study by the University of Leeds of 86 countries claims. The wealthiest tenth of people consume about 20 times more energy overall than the bottom ten, wherever they live.
The gulf is greatest in transport, where the top tenth gobble 187 times more fuel than the poorest tenth, the research says. That’s because people on the lowest incomes can rarely afford to drive.
The researchers found that the richer people became, the more energy they typically use. And it was replicated across all countries.
The researchers found that in transport the richest tenth of consumers use more than half the energy. This reflects previous research showing that 15% of UK travellers take 70% of all flights. The ultra-rich fly by far furthest, while 57% of the UK population does not fly abroad at all. The study says transport energy alone could increase 31% by 2050. “If transport continues to rely on fossil fuels, this increase would be disastrous for the climate,” the report says.
The study shows that a fifth of UK citizens are in the top 5% of global energy consumers, along with 40% of German citizens, and Luxembourg’s entire population. Only 2% of Chinese people are in the top global 5% of users, and just 0.02% of people in India.
Even the poorest fifth of Britons consumes over five times as much energy per person as the bottom billion in India.