America’s wealthiest create 40% of emissions, but lecture rest about being green, study finds

The top 1% was linked to more than of 17% of emissions, despite many celebrities and pols posing as loud voices against fossil fuels.

Published: August 21, 2023 11:32pm

New research published in PLOS Climate this week found that, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted in the United States, 40% of it comes from the 10% of richest households in the country. PLOS Climate is an open-access journal that says it furthers understanding of climatic patterns, processes, impacts and solutions by publishing transparent, rigorous and open research from diverse perspectives.

The study analyzed household income data from 1990 to 2019 and was led by University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s Jared Starr. The study showed that “in 2019, fully 40% of total U.S. emissions were associated with income flows to the highest earning 10% of households,” while GHG emissions among the bottom 90% had decreased. 

Moreover, income from the top 1% was “linked” to upwards of 17% of GHG emissions.

The study was conducted by ostensibly progressive researchers, given that they used terms like “climate crisis” throughout their paper, and suggested remedying this “emissions inequality” via “an alternative income or shareholder-based carbon tax.” 

Doing this may aid in “raising revenue for climate finance,” they wrote.

Meanwhile, many of the richest people in America are self-described climate activists despite apparently responsible for a large volume of GHG emissions. Bill Gates, for example, reportedly owns four private jets and has defended flying on them due to his climate activism, which consists of buying "carbon credits."

Other private jet flyers who double as climate change proclaimers include Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and more. 

Many in the Biden administration have been lambasted for their massive carbon footprint too, including climate czar John Kerry. Hundreds of Biden officials were recently called out for apparently flying to overseas summits but not tracking their carbon emissions, despite requiring it of federal agencies.

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