A new Analysis by Oxfam and US researchers has shown that twelve of the world’s wealthiest billionaires produce more greenhouse gas emissions from their yachts, private jets, mansions and financial investments than the annual energy emissions of 2m homes.
According to reports, these tycoons include the Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos, the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, the tech billionaires Bill Gates, Larry Page and Michael Dell, the inventor and social media company owner Elon Musk and the Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim.
The analysis, which looked at their luxury purchases, which include superyachts, private jets, cars, helicopters and palatial mansions, combined with the impact of their financial investments and shareholdings revealed that they account for almost 17m tonnes of CO2 and equivalent greenhouse gas emissions annually.
According to conversion data from the US Environmental Protection Agency, this is the same as the CO2 and equivalent emissions from powering 2.1m homes or the emissions from 4.6 coal-fired power plants over a year.
The true scale of the investment emissions of these individuals is not generally systematically calculated or reported. Oxfam analysts working with two US academics, Beatriz Barros and Richard Wilk, used publicly available data to calculate the greenhouse gas impacts.
“Billionaires generate obscene amounts of carbon pollution with their yachts and private jets – but this is dwarfed by the pollution caused by their investments,” Oxfam International’s inequality policy adviser, Alex Maitland was quoted as saying. “Through the corporations they own, billionaires emit a million times more carbon than the average person. They tend to favour investments in heavily polluting industries, like fossil fuels,”.
Speaking further, Maitland said that the world’s poorest communities, those who have done the least to cause climate change – those who are least able to respond and recover – are the ones who are suffering the worst consequences. This is unfair and immoral.
Also, the lifestyle emissions were estimated by examining the carbon footprint of the billionaires’ purchases, such as the $500m superyacht that Oceanco built recently for Bezos. The yacht, which is 127 metres (417ft) long and took three years to build, boasts the title of the largest sailing vessel in the world. Its carbon emissions are at a minimum about 7,154 tonnes a year, according to the analysis by Wilk and Barroz.
The superyachts owned by the likes of Bezos, Abramovich, the former Google tycoons Page and Eric Schmidt and by Bernard Arnault, the French tycoon at the helm of a jewellery and fashion empire, have carbon footprints that far exceed those of the private jets owned by 10 of the 12 billionaires.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.