By Paul Homewood

I want to return to the claim made yesterday by Roger Harrabin, that it is the world’s wealthy who are “at the heart of the climate problem”:

The world’s wealthy must radically change their lifestyles to tackle climate change, a report says.

It says the world’s wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%, according to the UN.

The wealthiest 5% alone – the so-called “polluter elite” – contributed 37% of emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.

The implication is that without those wicked billionaires the climate “problem” would be nearly solved. Typical left wing demagoguery in other words.

Personally I do not give a toss how the rich live. It is their hypocrisy I object to, when they lecture the rest of us how to live.

For instance, a new analysis of the Royal family’s air travel has showed they have done more than enough in the last five years to get them to the moon and back, mostly by private jet. This may all be for official travel, but it is no good Prince Charles waving his arms around and claiming there is no alternative. If the rest of us are to drastically cut back our lifestyles, the Royals too will have to find a different way to perform their duties.

But just how much difference do these wealthy elite make? If they reduced their emissions, would it have any noticeable effect at all?

Take residential emissions, for instance, which account for 18% of the UK’s total emissions:

Most of these emissions arise from natural gas, as electricity is separately accounted for. Final gas consumption, that is excluding transformation into power, was 514 GWh in 2018, of which 309 GWh was residential. I believe there are roughly 20 million homes on the gas grid, meaning an average of 15000 KWh per household. This is similar to my gas consumption, and is regarded as being the norm for a typical semi.

Obviously the sort of houses the wealthy live in will use much more gas, just as smaller houses use less. But there are so few of them that they make little difference to the overall average. 

Or take transport as another example. Road transport accounts for 91% of total transport emissions. Lamborghinis may use more fuel than a Vauxhall Astra, but with 30 odd million cars on the road, the emissions from them would not even register in the overall figure.

Ah, but what about all of those private jets? Domestic aviation only accounts for less than 1% of UK emissions, and most of that will be on scheduled flights. International aviation contributes 2.5% to global emissions, and again the vast bulk of this will come from regular flights.

As for the other sectors, power, industry, agriculture and so on, emissions would carry on regardless, even if we shipped of every billionaire to live on Neckar Island!

It is all very well being envious of those wealthier than ourselves, but it rubs both ways. There are also millions poorer than ourselves. People in glasshouses, and all that!

What Harrabin is promoting is not just attacking the super rich. His policies will have no effect on them anyway, because they are rich enough to pay the price. But they will seriously impact the ordinary people of this country. When he talks of “wealthy”, this is who he really means.


April 15, 2021 at 04:51AM