The more things you own, the more you travel, the more burning fossil fuels, and the more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere.
Navigate, buy luxury goods, keep warm in mansions and drive super cars – all have a carbon footprint.
But some argue that the wealthy can do their best to help fix the climate crisis. Here’s how they can make a difference.
Buying decisions for the wealthy mean much more to fighting climate change than most people make.
Otto noted that since the sample in the study was small, the numbers are illustrative. “Perhaps our estimates are less than the real emissions of millionaires,” she said.
“As for their lifestyle choices, the rich can change a lot,” Otto said. “For example, putting solar panels on their rooftops. They can also buy electric cars, preferably if they avoid flying.”
In the study, air travel represented more than half the fingerprint of a wealthy couple.
The rich also have more flexibility to make changes.
“High-income cities and high-income individuals also have the resources to experiment with new products, services and solutions,” he said, adding that they have the potential to create a market for more sustainable goods.
In addition to choosing what to spend money on, the rich can choose which industries to invest in – or not to invest in.
But there is a trend for wealthy investors selling their shares in weather-damaging industries, known as divestments.
Otto said: “You do not invest in coal, do not invest in oil and gas, and also in some car companies that produce ordinary cars, or aviation, so you manage financial flows.”
With investment withdrawing, little can go a long way. Otto said: “We have done some simulations that show that with the filter movement, you don’t need everyone to filter.” “If the minority of investors retracts, then other investors will not invest in these fossil fuel assets because they will be afraid of losing money … even if they have no environmental concerns.”
Wealth means strength
The wealthy are not only economic decision makers, they can also have political influence. They can fund political parties and campaigns and reach lawmakers.
Otto argued that the rich could use their political power to incite positive changes in climate policy.
“The people with the highest emissions, have the highest agency to change something,” Otto said. “There is a lot of research on the poor and the impact of climate change on the poor … the sustainable development goals and so on. But when it comes to work, sustainability and transformation, the poor cannot do anything because they are busy for survival.
“But the educated, the rich and the rich – it’s a completely different situation. They have the money and resources to work and they also have social networks,” she explained.
Climate Research Funding
The wealthy can also support climate research. In 2015, Microsoft founder Bill Gates pledged $ 2 billion of his fortune to fund clean energy research and development.
The letter said: “We appeal to you to urgently consider major investments to prevent more environmental disasters – whether through your personal investments or your charitable works.”
There are many incentives for the wealthy to demand climate action: A recent United Nations report has warned that delaying climate policies will cost the world’s largest companies $ 1.2 trillion over the next 15 years.
The wealthy also may have an impact on other carbon emissions.
Otto said: “The high position in our societies is still associated with high material wealth.” “It is my ambition to become very rich like you imitate the lifestyles of people you want to be like.”
For example, air travel is no longer just a treatment for the wealthy. This year, Ryanair, the budget airline, was the only non-coal plant among the top 10 emitters in Europe.
“We have to redefine wealth in our societies so that a” good life “is possible without high greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.