Submitted by a CASF Member:
What’s the richest people’s contribution to carbon dioxide pollution?
Previously, EDRO calculated the amount of carbon dioxide emission for each dollar of GDP in 2007 both globally and nationally for China and the US. But, how much do the world richest people [or largest corporations¹] contribute to the global CO2 pollution?
One way to compute the figure is by calculating the global average per capita CO2 emissions in relation to the world average per capita wealth.
McKinsey Global Institute in Mapping Global Capital Markets, published January 2008, reported: “The total value of the world’s financial assets—including equities, private and government debt securities, and bank deposits—grew faster in 2006 than the historical average rate, climbing by 17 percent [from $142trillion in 2005] to reach $167 trillion.”
The growth for 2007 was comparable, possibly up by about 20 trillion to a new total of $187 trillion. Base on the above figures, the global average per capita wealth for 2007 is calculated as follow:
$187,000 billion [total value of the world's financial assets] ÷ 6,612,040,000 [world population in 2007] = $28,282 [global average per capita wealth in 2007]
[The above income figure is an abstraction, of course. In actual terms, about 4.73 billion (71.6%) of world population fell in the low and lower middle income categories in 2007, according to the World Bank.]
The total anthropogenic (caused by human activity) CO2 emissions in 2007 was previously calculated by FEWW at 38,058.66 MMT. The global average per capita anthropogenic CO2 emissions for 2007 is calculated as
38,058.66 MMT [The global anthropogenic CO2 emissions for 2007] ÷ 6,612,040,000 [world population in 2007] = 5.76 tons [anthropogenic CO2 production per head]
How much CO2 Pollution does a billionaire produce?
Take Warren Buffett, the world’s riches man, for example. His assets were valued at $62 billion dollars in the 2007/2008 financial period. Compared with the “average person” in the world, Mr. Buffett had 2,192,227 times more assets.
$62 billion [Mr. Buffett’s assets] ÷ $28,282 [global average per capita wealth in 2007] = 2,192,227 [Ratio of Mr Buffett's wealth to the global average per capita wealth]
Therefore he produced 2,192,227 times more carbon dioxide than the average person in the world:
5.76 [tons of CO2 per head] x 2,192,227 [Ratio of Mr Buffett's wealth to the global per capita wealth] = 12,618,000,000 kg [12.62 MMT of CO2 produced by Mr Buffett in 2007 - puts a new slant on "filthy rich"]
The world had 1,125 billionaires in the 2007/2008 financial year, with the total assets of about $4.38 trillion. They produced a total 891.43MMT of CO2 in 2007.
The above figure is also an abstraction. In reality, however, the world’s richest people are responsible for the bulk of CO2 pollution because as Praetorian Guards of the exponential growth economy they disallow and suppress any change to a sustainable system stifling all initiatives toward an eco-centered, low-carbon, “oikonomia²,” or economics for community.
1. The global 2000 companies and therefore their shareholders accounted for $30 trillion in revenues, $2.4 trillion in profits, $119 trillion in assets and $39 trillion in market value in 2007. About 72 million people are employed by these companies. Source: Forbes.
2. Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr. in for the common good define oikonomia as follows. “The Discipline of Economics as Chrematistics: Aristotle made a very important distinction between ‘oikonomia’ and ‘chrematistics.’ The former, of course, is the route from which our word ‘economics’ derives. Chrematistics is a word that these days is found mainly in unabridged dictionaries. It can be defined as a branch of political economy relating to the manipulation of property and wealth so as to maximize short-term monetary exchange value to the owner. Oikonomia, by contrast, is the management of the household so as to increase its use value to all members of the household over the long run. If we expand the scope of household to include the larger community of the land, of shared values, resources, biomes, institutions, language, and history, then we have a good definition of ‘economics for community.’”
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