The Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change is a panel of 31 individuals who study people’s behaviour relating to the environment.
It says the world's wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%, according to the UN. The wealthiest 5% alone – the so-called “polluter elite” - contributed 37% of emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
Lead author of the report, Prof Peter Newell, from Sussex University, told BBC News:
“We have got to cut over-consumption and the best place to start is over-consumption among the polluting elites who contribute by far more than their share of carbon emissions. These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most and live in the biggest homes which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they’re well insulated or not."
He continued: “Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air. But these schemes are highly contentious and they’re not proven over time.
The wealthy, he said, “simply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV that’s still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first place”.
Prof Newell said existing political structures allowed wealthy firms and individuals to lobby against necessary changes in society that might erode the lifestyles of the rich.