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Rich lifestyles are imposing carbon emissions on poorest

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As Paris climate talks progress, new report exposes impact of carbon emissions across the world

Poor people across the world are responsible for just 10% of carbon emissions despite being the most threatened by global warming.

Findings from a new Oxfam report, released during the ongoing climate talks in Paris, show that while the poorest suffer most the world’s richest 10% produce around half of all emissions.

The report, Extreme Carbon Inequality, provides new estimates of how rich countries’ lifestyles impact negatively on poor nations.

The charity says its analysis helps dispel the myth that citizens in rapidly developing countries, such as India, are most to blame for climate change.

Conversely, Oxfam claims that while emissions are rising fastest in developing countries, much of this is for the production of goods consumed in other countries, meaning that the emissions associated with the lifestyle of the vast majority of their citizens are still far lower than their counterparts in developed countries.

Paris must be the start of building a more human economy for all - Tim Gore

Oxfam’s head of food and climate policy, Tim Gore, said: “Climate change and economic inequality are inextricably linked and together pose one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

“Paris must be the start of building a more human economy for all – not just for the haves, the richest and highest emitters, but also the have-nots, the poorest people who are the least responsible for and most vulnerable to climate change.”

According to the report, the only people who benefit from the status quo and who stand to gain from a weak deal in Paris is a select group of billionaires, who have made many of their fortunes in the fossil fuel industry.

Tackling the economic inequality that these carbon barons’ thrive on is critical both to ending extreme poverty and fighting climate change.

“Extreme carbon inequality has to be capped. Any deal must keep alive the possibility of holding global warming at 1.5 degrees celsius, and provide a major boost in funding to help the poorest and most vulnerable communities adapt to climate change,” Gore added.

Oxfam is also calling for the Paris deal to recognise the need to address loss and damage from the effects of climate change to which it is not possible to adapt, as well as ensure that all climate projects and actions respect human rights and gender equality.