When it comes to the planet, billionaires could be a million times more destructive than the average person, according to a new study. Funded by Oxfam, the study looked into the investments of the 125 richest billionaires and discovered that their cumulative emissions were one million times greater than average, with their investments accounting for 70 percent of this.
When tallied, the emissions reach an astonishing 393 million tonnes of CO2 each year, which is the same amount as France. With the billionaires owning a combined $2.4 trillion (£2.1 trillion) share in 183 companies, the individuals have a large stake in the production of the emissions.
Oxfam state that the number is likely even higher still, as companies producing the most emissions often misinterpret their true figures.
“Emissions from billionaire lifestyles – due to their frequent use of private jets and yachts – are thousands of times the average person, which is already completely unacceptable," said Nafkote Dabi, Climate Change Lead at Oxfam, in a statement.
"But if we look at emissions from their investments, then their carbon emissions are over a million times higher.”
The report comes as COP27 kicks off and is already embroiled in controversy, as the world remains far from the Paris agreement goals. Prominent figures such as Greta Thunberg have snubbed the event, calling it “greenwashing”.
While the billionaires themselves are certainly involved in this disproportionate production of greenhouse gases, it is ultimately not up to individuals to dictate world policy. Governments across the world continue to struggle in finding common ground and holding themselves accountable for their nations’ emissions, while the Earth hurtles towards thresholds that cannot be undone. It is then easy to shift the blame to large corporations or even rich individuals, but the report argues that governments must dictate what can and cannot be done. Pressure must be put on governments to act instead of finding scapegoats, regardless of how rich they are.
The study was published by Oxfam.