What’s Going On Here?
A new study published by Nature Energy has confirmed the significant disparity of energy usage between the rich and the poor.
What Does This Mean?
A study by the University of Leeds combined data from the European Union and World Bank to calculate the difference in energy footprints between 86 countries. It identified that the wealthiest tenth of people globally consume approximately 20 times more energy than the poorest tenth, with the inevitable increased contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Transport was found to be the area with the largest disparity, in which the wealthiest tenth consumed a whopping 187 times more energy than the poorest tenth! Overall, not one of the energy categories were free from inequality! The research also confirmed that, across all countries, the richer people became, the more energy they use.
Why Should We Care?
These results probably won’t come as a surprise to many of us, but for those of us living in developed wealthy countries it can still be a hard truth to swallow. A fifth of UK citizens were found to be in the top 5% of global energy consumers. However, we are also rated as one of the most unequal countries in Europe, echoed in our energy usage, for example with just 15% of UK travellers taking 70% of flights.
The authors also warned that without a significant reduction in consumption and policy interventions, energy footprints could double by 2050 from what they were in 2011! The evidence is also clear that it is the poorest countries who will be the most severely affected by climate change, yet they contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change and inequality are irrefutably interlinked and one cannot be tackled without tackling the other.
- With transport being the highest area of disparity – let’s look at how we can reduce our impact, whether it’s supporting frequent-flyer levies and/or going flight-free, or opting to use public transport, cycle or go on foot instead of driving.
- Learn how to live with less! Check out the #SlowLiving movement on social media and The Minimalists documentary if you haven’t already.
- Fight for a more equal world! Whether it’s the government’s you vote for or what you do locally: look to your community groups to see how you can help the most vulnerable near you.