30 September (WNN) — The wealthy have a larger carbon footprint than their well-to-do neighbors, multiple studies have confirmed.
According to new research published on Thursday in the journal Nature Energy, they also have the ability to bring about change.
For the new study, scientists identified five ways in which wealthy, well-connected people disproportionately affect global greenhouse gas emissions.
Because people with higher socioeconomic status take more responsibility for warming trends and have a greater ability to accelerate progress, the authors of the new study stressed that governments and policy makers need to be able to motivate behavioral changes in the upper echelons of society. methods are found.
To identify people with higher socioeconomic status, the researchers considered more than just a person’s paycheck. They also accounted for a person’s occupation, social status and social network.
“People with higher socioeconomic status are not only more likely to have more money, but also have stronger social networks,” first author Kristian Nielsen said in a press release.
“Their connections may enable them to influence behavior and policies to help mitigate climate change – and we need to find ways to encourage them to do so,” said Nielsen, a psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge. needed.”
The carbon footprint of the wealthy is mainly increased by their consumption and travel patterns.
Studies have shown that affluent neighborhoods have significantly higher per capita energy use. Recent research also shows that air travel accounts for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions from just 1% of the world’s population.
In the new study, researchers say people of higher socioeconomic status have the ability to drive change outside of their roles as consumers.
“People of higher socioeconomic status can also serve as role models, making more climate-friendly choices that influence others – driving an electric car or eating a vegetarian diet, for example,” Nielsen said. “You don’t need a big income to be a role model, you just need to be well connected.”
In addition to driving change through their roles as consumers and role models, wealthy people can invest in global warming mitigation technologies, directing capital into solar power and other forms of clean energy.
Rich people can use more than just money. They can also use their position of power to influence the purchasing decisions of the business as well as their larger social networks to organize progress.
“Our study focused on people of high socioeconomic status because they created many of the problems of fossil fuel dependence and related climate change, which affect the rest of humanity,” Nielsen said.
“And they are also well positioned to do something about it,” Nielsen said.