I see that Julianne Geiger has lurched uncontrollably onto a point I have made repeatedly here in her article at OilPrice.com:
Let’s start with a rather unpopular but absolutely factual issue that is a major obstacle in meeting climate targets. You can focus on how we’re producing energy, or you can focus on consuming energy. Focusing on the former is more palatable, if not scientifically complex and pricey. Focusing on energy consumption, on the other hand, is often met with immediate resistance–understandably so. Yet, it has a far simpler solution and is much less expensive. But it is a likely go-nowhere solution because if the world is truly to affect consumption, it must focus on a very specific group of individuals: the superconsumer.
Analysts love to cite facts and figures about which country per capita is responsible for the greatest amount of oil and gas consumption–or energy consumption–or has the highest carbon footprint. Aside from the fact that those figures are routinely disputed, those analysts lose sight of a wildly different perspective: further drilling down into precisely who the heavy consumers are within those nations.
A UN report from last December shows exactly who those people are: they are the world’s wealthiest 10%, who the UN alleges make up 50% of the world’s carbon footprint. The wealthiest 1% account for 15% of the world’s emissions–more than twice the emissions generated by people in the bottom 50%.
Now, this isn’t to shame all those jet-setting superconsumers and energy wasters. Nay, it is merely to point out the fallacy in thinking that the other 90% of the world’s population–representing a mere 50% of the world’s carbon footprint–has the ability to carry the world into our greener tomorrow.
Such thinking is popular yet foolish.
According to the UN, the global rich would have to cut their carbon footprint by 97% to stave off climate change. That the rich exact a higher carbon footprint on the world–or that income and the size of one’s carbon footprint is correlated–is not new. It is also not popular.
Setting carbon goals that focus on Average Joe instead of those superconsumers is like trying to curb teen social media use by banning Twitter instead of Snapchat or TikTok.
How surprising is it, really, that those tasked with formulating policy miraculously come up with policies that barely touch themselves at all while falling most heavily on those who have practically no ability to effect the change notionally intended? And talk about undemocratic!