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Our richest top 10pc emit same carbon as lowest 50pc

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Oxfam Ireland says the Government should use the Budget to end tax breaks for aircraft fuel and penalise frequent fliers. Stock image

Oxfam Ireland says the Government should use the Budget to end tax breaks for aircraft fuel and penalise frequent fliers. Stock image

Oxfam Ireland says the Government should use the Budget to end tax breaks for aircraft fuel and penalise frequent fliers. Stock image

The richest 10pc in Ireland are responsible for as much carbon emissions as the lowest-earning 50pc.

That means 475,000 high earners emit as much climate-­changing carbon as 2.3 million people on modest and low incomes, or one person in the top 10pc emits the same as five in the bottom 50pc.

Ireland's unequal carbon society reflects the imbalance globally where the richest 1pc emit more than double of what the poorest half emit.

Aid agency Oxfam carried out the analysis as part of an international study, Confronting Carbon Inequality.

Among the findings for Ireland were that the top 10pc are responsible for 26pc of emissions, due to higher levels of consumption.

The middle 40pc by income are responsible for 45pc of emissions and the bottom 50pc, for 29pc.

Oxfam is calling on governments to take this into account when devising climate policy.

Jim Clarken, chief executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: "Our report highlights the need for governments, including our own, to confront extreme ­carbon inequality.

"Until we do that, a wealthy minority will continue to enjoy the luxuries of overconsumption, fuelling the climate crisis at the expense of poor communities and our young people."

Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan has promised climate action will be "socially progressive and environmentally progressive", but there is anxiety among large sectors of the population that they will have to carry an undue burden through taxes on essential fuels and job losses in carbon-intensive industries.

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Oxfam Ireland is calling on the Government to equality-­proof all climate actions and put mechanisms in place to offset negative impacts on low-income groups.

It says the Government should use the Budget to end tax breaks for aircraft fuel and penalise frequent fliers, as well as end State bailouts and subsidies for sectors making profits out of luxury consumption at a high carbon cost.

The Government is targeting a 7pc annual reduction in emissions up to 2030, which is a step-up from previous commitments, but is still below what is needed to keep the temperature rise to 1.5C.

Beyond that point, climate change will escalate and, at 2C, severe and irrevocable damage is expected.


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