To Reduce Our Carbon Footprint, We Need Another Kind of Extinction Rebellion

Originally published at:

“The world’s richest ten percent are responsible for an estimated 47 percent share of global CO2 emissions,” writes Florian Zandt at Statista. This is the result of a recent study published in the journal Nature Sustainability. The study focused on how alleviating poverty worldwide would impact carbon emissions. To Reduce Our Carbon Footprint, We Need Another Kind of Extinction Rebellion

Not an unreasonable position bar a few things. On the following points:

  1. Generally, this also risks keeping the poverty gap the same. Billionaire money doesn’t automatically go to government. Since it often goes abroad and there is an advantage for other countries in sucking up that cash. So this is an unachievable aim in most cases. We could try sanctions, but the flip side is they just drop their wealth taxes to zero. Which pulls money out of the UK and other countries. Be careful how you make this happen. Since the most likely outcome is it has absolutely no effect whatsoever.

  2. 100% Agree! Though I’d argue there are at least 6 innovative ways already in existence that go beyond just sustainability and equity. The thing holding us back are people and politicians.

  3. This is nonsense unfortunately. Get rid of the richest 1% you are still left with a richest 1%. This is an innumerate nonsense. Plus, the richest 1% globally (not per nation or as a PP adjustment) is actually anyone with an income of £70,000 and a house. So it’s not as rich as most people think.

Plus, Prof Wilk is a social anthropologist, not a Carbon modeller, Climate modeller, physicist nor mathematician. I can’t comment on his social anthropology, but from a mathematical perspective, he is wrong and badly wrong on the Billionaire Carbon footprint!

…because he’s grossly undercooked it (and because he defines the Average person by American standards). That’s right. Social studies innumeracy has understated the mean Carbon gap by a factor of at least 10 and in most cases, a factor of 50!

Thanks so much for your astute comments regarding my article, which was largely polemical and not an attempt to outline any detailed policies. I do think that capitalism can effectively and benignly function on a small scale if it is linked with a strong social and environmental contract. It is on the corporate scale that it needs to be tamed by governmental and worker policies, and turned into worker-owned and managed entities. The main driver of corporate capitalism is profit and concentration of wealth, and that needs to be tamed. One way is through progressive taxation, which happened to a large extent until the 1970s when neoliberalism took over. Piketty has shown this in detail and proposes a progressive tax because it has worked in the past, but it will require strong government and international cooperation, in other words, large-scale systems change. Better than this would be a restructuring of the economy, and a cap on wealth accumulation, which is what my article hints at. Again, this requires market control through policy change and economic restructuring. When the market is mainly controlled by corporate capitalism, we get what we have today. One example: the oil industry is happy to increase the production of oil due to the Ukraine war simply because their goals are mainly profit-driven. The problem is unfettered capitalism, not capitalism perse, which can do well on a small scale. Thus the idea of making the rich go extinct. But as you say, wrong political policies on all levels, economic, social, and environmental, are holding us back.

Capitalism is always unfettered that is the nature of the system. I don’t understand that Socialism is never mentioned or used as a example of how we can change society. It is more realistic to use the term EcoSocialism as an example of change rather than hanging on to reformed Capitalism.