Billionaires Are Bad for the Environment

Medscape Staff

January 23, 2023

The world's super rich are investing in industries that are harming the environment, according to a report on climate change by the global organization Oxfam.

What to Know

  • The wealthiest 1% of humanity is responsible for twice as much carbon emissions as the poorest 50% of the world's population; that amount of emissions is unsustainable.

  • By 2030, the carbon footprints of the ultra-wealthy are set to be 30 times greater than the level compatible with the 1.5° C goal of the Paris Agreement.

  • Billionaires are investing in polluting industries, such as fossil fuels and cement, at double the average rate for the S&P 500. The  individual annual average is a million times higher than someone in the bottom 90% of humanity.

  • Billionaires and corporations that do not publicly reveal their emissions (and are therefore not included in the research) are likely to be those that have a high impact on climate.

  • Fewer than 1 in 3 of the 183 corporations reviewed by Oxfam are working with the Science Based Targets Initiative, just 16% have set net zero targets, and only one billionaire in the sample had investments in a renewable energy company.

This is a summary of the article, "Carbon Billionaires: The Investment Emissions of the World’s Richest People," published by OxFam on November 6, 2022. The full article can be found on

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