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The poorest half of the population is responsible only for ten per cent of global emissions whereas the ten richest per cent produce almost half of all emissions. This is the result of a study by the organization Oxfam. Tim Gore, author of the study highlights that the least responsible are at the same time those who experience the impacts of the climate crisis the hardest. Hence, climate justice means that the wealthier parts of the world have to reduce the emissions starkly and provide the finance for adaptations for the poorer regions. But the EU so far has only pledged half of the needed 80 % emission cuts by 2030. Instead of the estimated 1.5 trillion dollars for adaptation and emission reduction the developed countries only want to mobilize 100 billion for the developing countries – and even this sum is not guaranteed.

Tim Gore, Oxfam International, author of the study "Extreme Carbon Inequality"
Pablo Solón, former chief climate negotiator for Bolivia
Alice Bows-Larkin, climate scientist, Tyndall Centre (UK)
Kevin Anderson, climate scientist, co-dIrector Tyndall Centre
Janet Redman, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington D.C.

David Goessmann: A new study of the organisation Oxfam shows that the poorer half of the world, so 3.5 billion people are responsible for only 10 % of the global carbon emissions. Contrary the richest 10 % alone produce 49 % of total emissions. Hence, the organisation talks of extreme carbon inequality. We talked to Tim Gore, author of the study.

Tim Gore: For a long time, the issue of climate change has been seen as an environmental issue; it's about the planet, about the forest, it's about polar bears, you know. And for a number of years now we're actually saying: No, it's about people. This is basically, you know, a story about the poorest people – least responsible for climate change. It's about their livelihoods; it's about their rights. So that started to change. What we're saying now, is that: We can't even look at climate change as a standalone issue. This is connected to the wider issues that we're facing. In developing countries and in developed countries. So there's rising inequality; that's a problem in just about every country in the world. And it's connected to this climate crisis. So what we want to see is: How do you link those two issues together? How can we understand the relationship between it. Because ultimately we think: Unless we can tackle inequality and climate change together, you won't attack either of them. So we need to better understand those links.

David Goessmann: You just published the study "Extreme Carbon Inequality". What means 'carbon inequality'? And what are the results of the study?

Tim Gore: So what we're looking at here: We're trying to compare how much individuals are responsible for in terms of carbon emissions. So we're looking at-- We're estimating and comparing between countries, their carbon emissions associated with your lifestyle, my lifestyle, of rich and poor people, in many countries around the world. Some of the headline findings are that the 10% richest people in the world – wherever they happen to live – are responsible for a half of global carbon emissions. While the poorest 50% – the poorest half of the population – are responsible for just 10%. So that's an extreme inequality and that's what we're highlighting in the report.

David Goessmann: And how many people are behind these numbers?

Tim Gore: Well, the poorest half of the population, globally, is like 3.5 billion people. So, that's 3.5 billion responsible for just 10% of global emissions; the richest 10% would be like 700 million people, something like that. So, it's a smooth proportion of the global population that is really driving this problem. But that's still quite a lot of people, obviously, 700 million people is not like-- we're not just talking about billionaires flying around in private jets. This is-- people in most countries. But what it does go to show is that the vast majority of the population of poorest people on the planet are really negligible in terms of their contribution to emissions. I think there's, you know, perhaps sometimes the suggestion that growing population is a problem. For example of climate change, that it's the growing population in poor countries that's part of the challenge. Well, our figures would suggest that's not really true. Population is growing fastest in the poorest countries and, you know, it's not their emissions ultimately that are driving the emissions of rich people. One of the other ironies or tragedies, actually, or injustices is that, not only are the poorest people the lowest emitting, the least responsible for this problem but are also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They're living in the countries, which are highly vulnerable to floods, to drought, to extreme weather events, the changing seasons... And even within countries there's a lot of new research coming out now, that suggests that the poorest people are more exposed to those types of extreme weather. So, we're seeing-- You know, this is the other side of the injustice. Not only are they least responsible, they're also most vulnerable. So we wanna make sure, that they-- We're trying our best that this deal, that is being negotiated here in Paris to adjust climate change, does have those people in mind. That means we need to get for example much more money flowing to help those people to adapt to the impacts of climate change, that are least the cause of this problem, they're most vulnerable to it. We need to make sure that resources reach them at the scale to help them to cope with, for example: small scale farmers that are struggling to make a living; seasons are changing, what makes it much harder to know when the rains are coming. They need more advice, more support in "how to farm in these changing conditions", for example. So that's one of the key points that we want to make sure is on the table in the next two days. Similarly we've got to make sure that emissions are reduced quickly enough; that we don't surpass levels of global warming to which it is not gonna be possible to adapt. And – quite frankly – we're a bit disappointed at the moment. We're worried; we're concerned at the direction of these talks. Frankly, we don't see them putting the interests of the poorest, the least responsible, first. That’s something we're trying, fighting to change in the next couple of days.

Pablo Solón: My experience in Cancún, just a few hours before the agreement was adopted by the majority, but not by Bolivia: many countries we're saying they're not going to accept the deal because it was really an unfair deal. That is was going to create a tragic situation, for example for Africa. But at the end of the day, when we reach midnight in Cancún, those same countries were voting in favour of the agreement. And I want to speak with some of the negotiators that were my friends, to ask them: "What happened, you just were in a press conference with me, saying that this was unacceptable. And suddenly, at 12, 1 a.m. in the morning you were accepting this". And he said: "Well, I received a call from my capital". And negotiators follow instructions. So: "what kind of pressures did your government receive?" I asked one of them. And he's from a country in Africa, and he said: "Well, the problem is that the salaries for our bureaucrats, for our staff in government, are paid by the EU. So the EU threatened" – those were his words – "with that loan, that would of course have a very big consequence. So the government said to me, come on, what are you doing there, you have to vote in favour or you're not going to have a salary; and nobody's going to have a salary here". Those are the kind of blackmails that you see in this negotiation. So we have to see until the end of the day... If I would be chief negotiator, I would definitely repeat what I did in Cancún. I think we cannot accept one more time, again and again; to have a deal that will lead us to a genocide, to an ecocide.

Alice Bows-Larkin: We're focussing on the per capita emissions of countries that are industrializing. One way of looking at them is you look at the territorial per capita emission, so the emission from just the territory. And then you will see India's per capita emission is still very low. While China's is actually much more similar on average to a typical EU citizen. On the other hand, if you actually take consumption-based emissions, which is when we include the CO2 associated with the goods that we consume – China's emissions are still lower, much lower than an EU citizen's emissions. And India's are still very low. So from a per capita point of view, as individuals, if you consider the issue of equity and justice important, then the per capita contributions are low. And also they have, in terms of historical responsibility, much less responsibility for the problem. The other side of it though is that because a 2° target requires such a limited carbon budget, such a limited amount of space, that any country that happens to be a large population, or has a large land mass (can be a similar thing), but has a lot of emissions in absolute terms is going to be using up quite a lot of this carbon budget, particularly as those countries develop. So the question is: How do we allow for countries to industrialize, given that their per capita emissions are low their standards of living are much lower then in the EU or in the US or in Australia. Whilst actually being able to achieve our 2° target. And so the reality is that we've left it so late, in terms of avoiding a 2° target, that actually there is a lot of pressure on big countries like India and China, to also have to reduce their emissions. But it does also mean that in the richer countries, the US, the EU, Australia, Canada, Japan – we need to make much bigger reductions if we are going to consider this issue of equity and justice important. Because we have created the problem. And yet the expectation is that other countries that are now emerging, in terms of their economies, should do as much perhaps to solve the problem. And you know, this just is a moral question I think, whether that is a reasonable thing to do.

Kevin Anderson: We have this set carbon budget and when we think about the carbon budget, the one that‘s given by the IPCC for the year 2011 to 2100. The cop will finish at the end of 2015 and since 2011 to now we‘ve used about… we put in the atmosphere about 150 billion tons of carbon dioxide which is about 15% of a good chance of 2 °C. So we are using the budget up very rapidly. Once you take those things into account, once you take account of the fact that there will be on-going deforestation, that the use of cement to help us move towards a low carbon future or for the industrialization of the poorer parts of the world, once you take all of that into place, the carbon budget that is left is much smaller than the headline budget we get in the IPCC. If you then say we need to divide that amongst the parts of the world with some small concept of equity in there, then the reduction rates for the wealthy parts of the world needs to be at least 80% by 2030. And really we need to be pretty much decarbonized in the wealthy parts of the world by about 2035 or thereabout and in the poorer parts of the world by about 2050. That‘s not just us saying this. At the side event that we had here yesterday with the Tyndall Centre and the Global Carbon Project, the Global Carbon Project’s data points to very much a similar set of conclusions. So the EU figure of about 40% is about half – less than half really – of what the EU would need to deliver if it was to make its fair contribution to a reasonable chance of a 2 °C future.

Pablo Solón: This principle of common but differentiated responsibility isn't is in the convention and it clearly says that the countries that have had historical emissions and have created this problem should be the ones that first take the lead in emission cuts and second are the responsibles for providing funding, finance to developing countries. What they are really trying to achieve here in the Paris deal is to undermine this difference between developed countries with historical emissions and developing countries. So, we are seeing that the tax now will have a mention to the principle of CBDR, but if you all the architecture of the text it's more based on: "Oh we're all going to do things". Forgetting that "of course we all have to do, but there are some that are much more responsible and that should take the lead and should provide the finance for this issue".

Janet Redman: Well, what’s needed unfortunately is about 1.5 trillion dollars if we’re going to transition our global economy away from a fossil fuel intensive to one that’s climate resilient and clean energy. That’s not remotely on the table here. We are talking about a magnitude way lower than that. 100 billion dollars is from a meeting that happened in Copenhagen and the 100 billion dollars is an aspirational goal, we are supposed to get there by 2020. There’s some tricky language in there of course. It talks about mobilizing money, which is different from providing money. And what's on the table right now is a question of either we see 100 billion dollars as a floor and that developed countries have to ratch(?) it up from there and provide more finance – or we just open it up and say: "any party, any country that is willing to do so can provide any sum of money, through any mechanism out there, whether it's private or public, whether it's moving markets or moving actual public finance for public goods" ... and that's actually not acceptable. We know that this doesn't take us where we need to go. We need public money to actually entice investment, innovation into these kinds of sectors that we want. We certainly want the private sector in there, but we can't depend on them to provide public goods.