“Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." 

- Albert Einstein

World’s Richest Must Cut Carbon Footprint by 97%

Updated: Apr 18

Jennifer McDowall explains recent findings from the UN’s Emissions Gap report and why the world’s most affluent need to change their ways.

Photo by Leonardo Miranda

The goal of the Paris Climate Agreement is to keep the global warming of the Earth to within two degrees of pre-industrial levels. According to a recently published UN report, however, we’re “absolutely not” on track to meet this goal – and the richest people on the planet could be responsible.

At the end of 2020, the UN published its Emissions Gap Report, which explored the difference between the current global carbon emissions and the levels we need to have to stay with the targeted two degrees. Based on the current levels of emissions, the report predicts that the global temperature will exceed three degrees above the desired temperature within the century.

Since 2010, global greenhouse gas emissions have been steadily growing by an average of 1.4% each year. In 2019, a record 59.1 giga-tonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) was produced, a 2.6% increase from the year before. This was in large part a result of forest fires, which are becom