Revised 2 December 2023

Carbon dioxide emissions are a good proxy for consumption of fossil fuels used to provide goods and services. Figure 49 shows that the richest 10% of people in the world, and that includes New Zealanders, are responsible for 49% of CO2 emissions. The poorest 50% of people in the world are responsible for only around 10% of total lifestyle consumption emissions. 

Figure 1: Disproportionate Consumption by the Wealthy (Oxfam 2015) 

The need to reduce consumption levels in order to mitigate the impact of climate change applies especially to the well-developed countries. An immediate 50% reduction in emissions by the richest 10% in the world would reduce global emissions to 75% of current levels. A 75% reduction would reduce global emissions to 62.5% of current levels.