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Ought to we goal the wealthy to protect the local weather? Listed below are the professionals and cons

5:19 p.m., September 16, 2022

There are these Instagram accounts that monitor the personal jet hops of billionaires and stars. Like these 13 minutes carried out by host Oprah Winfrey on Monday, to keep away from the monster visitors jams in Los Angeles. Or the United States-Norway-Germany route of Elon Musk (48 tonnes of CO2 in in the future) or this Paris-Rome-Saint-Malo-Paris of François-Henri Pinault (about 18.5 tonnes). There was this snicker from Christophe Galtier and Kylian Mbappé, respectively PSG coach and striker, on the concept of ​​taking the practice to play in Nantes. But in addition controversies over derogations for watering golf programs this summer time, within the midst of a drought, or criticism of the surge in gross sales of swimming swimming pools and SUVs.

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In latest months, the (extremely)-rich have been more and more focused for the environmental influence of their way of life. Elected officers and environmental activists suggest to manage, tax, even stigmatize or ban sure behaviors. Is that this a superb technique to protect the local weather? Listed below are the principle arguments for and towards.

PROS: the (extremely)-rich emit excessively

A number of research present that the richer you’re, the extra greenhouse gases you emit. Buying a second automobile, bigger lodging, long-distance journey, superfluous purchases… An increase in the usual of dwelling typically goes hand in hand with extra consumption, and subsequently extra emissions.

In France, in accordance with the World Inequality Lab, the typical carbon footprint of 8.7 tons of CO2 per 12 months hides robust disparities: the wealthiest 10% every emit 24.7 tons, in comparison with 5 tons for the least 50% well-to-do and 9.3 tonnes for the center 40%. A research revealed within the OFCE journal obtains a smaller however nonetheless clear distinction: households from the richest 10% emit on common 2.2 occasions greater than these from the poorest 10%.

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On a world scale, and nonetheless in accordance with the World Inequality Lab, the richest 10% characterize practically 48% of emissions, whereas the poorest half is just answerable for 12% of emissions. The wealthiest 1% alone account for 17% of emissions. Sure behaviors reserved for the ultra-rich are certainly disproportionately polluting. For instance, in accordance with the NGO Transport & Setting, a passenger on a non-public jet emits between 4 and 14 occasions greater than a passenger on an airliner.

CONS: Changing the wealthy will not be sufficient

However changing the wealthiest to ecology won’t be sufficient to realize our local weather objectives. “It will possibly solely be a primary step”, advances Emmanuel Combet, economist at Ademe and co-author of the research of the OFCE journal. “If we redistribute wealth, probably the most modest will emit extra and we won’t have solved the issue, he provides. We have to change the event mannequin. » Particularly since most French individuals are among the many richest on this planet.

France is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. This implies eliminate fossil fuels, not simply jets or SUVs. Even probably the most modest will subsequently see their each day lives turned the other way up. On personal jets, for instance, francetvinfo has calculated that the sector represented 0.09% of CO2 emissions in France in 2019. In the identical 12 months, street transport, agriculture or residential accounted respectively for round 30%, 19% and 17% of emissions.

In a column revealed in Launch
, researcher François Gemenne, a specialist in geopolitics of the surroundings, fears that this stigmatization will distract from the profound transformation to be undertaken. On the JDD, he explains that “this might lead us to not see the elephant in the course of the room, i.e. to give attention to particular person behaviors to the detriment of structural and collective points” such because the reorientation of economic flows, vitality renovation or the greening of the car fleet.

PROS: The rich can extra simply make an effort

In regards to the richest 1%, the World Inequality Lab provides up the emissions linked to their consumption but additionally to their investments. This technique might overestimate the carbon footprint of the wealthiest, however it underlines an argument: as a result of their checking account is full, as a result of they run companies, as a result of they’ll deflect their financial savings or as a result of ‘they’ve an affect on most of the people, the richest have each extra leeway and extra duty.

” There’s a difficulty of fairness and effectivity, feedback Emmanuel Combet. A priori, the wealthy can scale back their emissions extra shortly with out an excessive amount of issue. From this viewpoint, it may be helpful to start out there. » Conversely, a Frenchman who’s struggling to make ends meet will discover it harder to purchase an electrical automobile or to insulate his house.

Added to that is the difficulty of acceptance, in a rustic marked by the motion of yellow vests. approve the crucial of sobriety when, on the identical time, the kerosene of personal jets will not be taxed, for instance? “You’ll be able to’t ask folks to make an effort in the event that they really feel that the wealthy are breaking the foundations, provides François Gemenne. The hassle should be pretty distributed. »

CONS: Wealth will not be the one issue to contemplate

Nevertheless, this hyperlink between wealth and CO2 emissions should be certified. “Past the averages, there are very massive heterogeneities inside revenue teams, tempers Emmanuel Combet. Among the many poorest 10% of households, the quarter that emits probably the most CO2 emits greater than the least emitting quarter of the wealthiest. »

The research to which he contributed within the OFCE journal focuses particularly on transport and heating. Outcome: we nonetheless observe a correlation between revenue and emissions, however rather more restricted. As a result of different elements are decisive, similar to place of residence, the kind of lodging or the mode of heating. In different phrases: revenue can’t be the one studying grid. “This prism is just too reductive, warns Emmanuel Combet. There’s a danger of designing poorly focused public insurance policies. »

PROS: the significance of symbols

Jet-ski or sports activities automobile journeys, swimming swimming pools and luxurious watches: the video posted by footballer Karim Benzema in early July, a memento of his trip in Florida, might make you dream… if we neglect the carbon footprint of such a keep. Journalist and creator of How the wealthy are destroying the planet (Seuil, 2007), Hervé Kempf replied to François Gemenne in one other discussion board relayed by Launch
. He recollects the load of symbols, past the difficulty of acceptance, and believes that the stigmatization of the ultra-rich is an efficient means of ridicule a lifestyle that values ​​overconsumption. It’s essential, he says, “to make unacceptable the ‘mannequin’ of lifetime of the higher lessons”.

Extra broadly, Hervé Kempf asserts that“we should settle for that the politics of local weather change are conflicting”. And for that, it’s essential to designate the adversary: ​​the wealthy, “main answerable for the present planetary disaster”who “block ecological insurance policies”. For him, world warming is a “Struggle of the wealthy, warfare on the poor”.

CONS: the danger of division

Conversely, François Gemenne fears that this stigma is counter-productive. If he says he’s in favor of regulating, taxing or banning probably the most polluting actions similar to personal jets, he denounces the very fact of pointing the finger at people. On the danger, on the one hand, of discouraging the efforts (why flip down the heating when the footballer Lionel Messi emitted in three months and 52 flights what a Frenchman emitted in 150 years?) and, alternatively, of controversies in polemics, “to divide society and gas the false authoritarianism trial towards ecology”.

“The answer is to not stigmatize particular person conduct however to undertake collective guidelines. Individuals are more likely to discard on others, as a result of one will at all times have the ability to discover richer than oneself, he continues. Right this moment, it is personal jets. Tomorrow it might be swimming swimming pools and the day after tomorrow barbecues. » For this co-author of the IPCC, “the adversary is the fossil industries, not the folks”.

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