I was pleased my letter about the climate emergency provoked some debate on the Star letters page over Christmas. In reply to Roy Sanderson, population is not the most important factor. More important is those people’s consumption, as this adds to our emissions. Carbon Brief, the UK-based climate science website, has done some great research and found out that UK energy use is incredibly unequal. Those with extreme wealth are by far the biggest polluters.
The top 10% of earners use more energy on flights than the bottom 20% use in a year. Their holidays and business trips burn through all the energy the poorest fifth use for power, heating, fueling cars etc.
Compared to energy use by the bottom 10% of earners, the top 10% use 10 times more for domestic flights, 5 times more for international flights, 3 times more driving cars and 5 times more for recreation.
The study shows white, wealthy middle-aged men are most likely to be “excess” energy users while non-white and female users are most vulnerable to energy poverty.
Comparing nations, the whole of Africa has 16.7% of the world’s population but has emitted only 3% of global carbon dioxide (data from Global Carbon Project). The USA has 4.5% of the global population but, since 1959, has emitted 21.5 per cent of global carbon dioxide.
John Bunting asks if I am a member of the “Flat Earth Society”. No, because I take peer-reviewed science seriously. It is those that still don’t accept the scientific facts of climate change that should be asked this question. Of course, there should be debate about the climate emergency, but not about whether or not it exists! We have to debate what changes we can make and how quickly we can change to limit the worst effects of our overheating planet. How do we move our society from one that values private transport most, to one that values public transport most? How do we change our consumerist passion for more and more stuff to an even stronger passion to care for the earth and everything in it?
Sheffield Green Party