How Inequality Is Worsening The Climate Crisis, According To This New Study

The wealth gap makes it "harder to develop collective responses" to the climate crisis, say researchers


2 Minutes Read

Climate protesters holding signs and chanting The researchers back proposals outlined in the Green New Deal - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Tackling inequality is necessary to combat the climate crisis, states a new report.

The new analysis, worked on by researchers from Salem State University and University College London, assessed several existing studies and concluded that the wealth gap is making the climate crisis tougher to overcome.

The researchers argue that governments should now focus on creating more jobs and improving social services, as outlined in the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal is a set of proposals that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but at the same time, also help more people into work and close the wealth divide. 

‘A climate case for tackling inequality

The growing gap between the rich and the financially insecure is fueling the climate crisis, notes the study. For example, rich people have more money and resources at their disposal, and much of this goes on hobbies or activities that hurt the planet.

One report in 2021 suggested that a small number of wealthy frequent flyers are responsible for most air travel. And previous research found that billionaire Bill Gates flew 59 times in 2017. As a result, he generated more than 1,600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. 

One of the new study’s co-authors, Professor Neal Healy of Salem State University, told the Boston Globe: “We can agree that we need to tackle inequality for moral reasons. What our study showed is that actually, there is a climate case for tackling inequality as well.”

But it’s not just about the rich and their jet-setting habits. It’s also about the social climate that a divided society creates.

Professor Fergus Green of University College London, who also co-authored the study, said: “Inequality erodes the social foundations of democracy, making it harder to develop collective responses to climate change.”

Healy noted that measures like “mandatory living wages, wealth taxes, free transit, and pro-union reforms” are necessary.

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