September 30 (UPI) – The rich have a larger carbon footprint than their affluent neighbors, several studies have confirmed.
According to new research, published Thursday in the journal Nature Energy, they also have a greater ability to effect change.
For the new study, scientists have identified five ways rich and well-connected people disproportionately impact global greenhouse gas emissions.
Because those with higher socioeconomic status bear greater responsibility for warming trends and have greater potential to precipitate progress, the authors of the new study insist that it is imperative that governments and policymakers are finding ways to motivate behavior change among the upper echelons of society.
To identify people with high socioeconomic status, researchers looked at more than just a person’s paycheck. They also took into account a person’s profession, social status and social network.
âPeople of high socioeconomic status are not just those with more money, but those with stronger social networks,â said lead author Kristian Nielsen in a press release.
“Their connections can enable them to influence behaviors and policies to help mitigate climate change – and we need to find ways to encourage them to do so,” said Nielson, psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at Cambridge University. .
The carbon footprint of the richest people is mainly inflated by their consumption and travel habits.
Studies have shown that per capita energy consumption in wealthier neighborhoods is significantly higher. Recent research also suggests that only 1% of the world’s population is responsible for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions from air transport.
People with high socioeconomic status have the potential to effect change outside of their role as consumers, the researchers say in the new study.
âPeople of higher socioeconomic status could also serve as role models, making more climate-friendly choices that influence others – for example driving electric cars or following a vegan diet,â Nielsen said. “You don’t need a huge income to be a model, you just need to be well connected.”
In addition to implementing changes through their roles as consumers and role models, wealthy people can invest in climate mitigation technologies, directing capital to solar and other forms of energy. own.
Rich people can use more than money. They can also use their positions of power to influence companies’ purchasing decisions, as well as their large social networks to organize progress.
“Our study focused on people of high socioeconomic status, as they have generated many problems of fossil fuel dependence and associated climate change, which are affecting the rest of humanity,” Nielsen said.
âAnd they’re also in a good position to do something,â Nielsen said.