Republicans Are Lying About Fentanyl to Scare Voters

TruthOut - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 09:02

Fentanyl is a painkiller legally administered in emergency rooms every day. “Fentanyl” is also a catch-all term for synthetic opioids fueling panic and misinformation about the overdose crisis — and a central theme of the GOP’s fearmongering midterm election strategy.

In a recent appeal to voters that was panned by critics as “substance-free” in terms of concrete policy ideas, House Republicans decried an “out of control border” and claimed every state is now a “border state” under assault by fentanyl. Ahead of an expected reelection bid, former president Trump is once again railing about an “invasion” of “drug dealers” claiming “innocent victims,” a redux of the racist messaging on immigration that defined his first campaign.

Never mind that drug overdose deaths actually began rising under the Trump administration’s policies before shattering records once COVID hit, or that medical experts and nonpartisan fact-checkers routinely debunk GOP narratives portraying an increase in fentanyl seizures by law enforcement as evidence of an “open border.”

By wrongly conflating asylum seekers and President Joe Biden’s border policies with overdose deaths, Republicans hope to continue hammering Democrats as “soft” on “crime” and immigration (if only!) while whipping up fear among voters and anger in their nativist base. The GOP’s major attack lines ahead of the midterms are “open borders,” “fentanyl,” and “invasion,” and they are grounding those attacks in lies and disinformation, according to a national analysis of digital ads and campaigns published by America’s Voice, an immigration reform group.

The GOP’s rhetoric fits neatly into the grooves of the so-called “Great Replacement,” a deeply racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about liberal elites aiming to replace white, Christian Americans with people of color, Jews, Muslims and non-European immigrants. According to this distorted logic, which is trumpeted by right-wing commentators such as Tucker Carlson on Fox News, President Joe Biden and the Democrats are allowing drugs produced in China and Mexico to cross the border and kill Americans while they are “replaced” by a non-white electorate.

In reality, most migrants attempting to cross border are seeking asylum after fleeing violence and poverty, and certainly aren’t smuggling fentanyl in their backpacks. Plenty of statements and data from federal law enforcement show that fentanyl most commonly enters the U.S. in trucks and passenger vehicles at legal ports of entry, and a majority of those transporting fentanyl are U.S. citizens, who are less likely to draw the attention of border police. By scapegoating migrants as a source of drugs, demagogues obscure the facts with a cloud of xenophobia.

Thousands of travelers, workers and truck drivers cross the U.S.-Mexico border through legal ports of entry each day, and federal border authorities are reportedly undertaking a $480 million effort to update scanner equipment to identify vehicles carrying fentanyl and other drugs. On top of billions of dollars spent annually to enforce drugs laws, the Biden administration announced an additional $275 million in anti-drug trafficking funding in April. Facing baseless attacks from the right, Biden has also issued a dangerous call for an additional 100,000 local cops on the streets.

If Republicans had proposals beyond building Trump’s border wall and further restricting immigration — which would not stop fentanyl at legal ports of entry — they would probably look a lot like Biden’s: more policing. Stopping drugs at the border is bedrock U.S. policy, but if saving lives is any metric, this decades-old drug war approach is clearly failing. The sharp increase in fentanyl seizures under both Trump and Biden has not prevented a record number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. (Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that fentanyl is far from the only drug behind the crisis; fatal overdoses involving stimulants are also on the rise, and overdoses often include alcohol or a combination of drugs.)

By scapegoating migrants as a source of drugs, demagogues obscure the facts with a cloud of xenophobia.

Experts warn there is no way to stop all drugs crossing the border, where traffickers and police have played a lucrative “cat and mouse game” for decades. Law enforcement efforts over to disrupt the traditional heroin supply and crackdown on painkiller prescribing increased demand for fentanyl, which is easier to smuggle in smaller packages due to its potency. Unlike prescription painkillers with known dosages, counterfeit pills and other products containing fentanyl can vary in strength, putting users at increased risk of overdose.

The U.S. has averaged more than 100,000 overdose deaths in a 12-month period for over a year now, according to preliminary estimates by the Centers for Disease Control. In July, the CDC confirmed massive racial disparities in the data from 2019 and 2020, when rates of fatal drug overdose skyrocketed by about 30 percent as COVID-19 roiled Trump’s final year in office. The CDC’s report does not mention the southern border. Instead, the CDC cites unequal access to health care and addiction treatment fueled by stigma and bias against drug users, especially if they are poor, Black or Brown.

Such inequalities were entrenched when the pandemic isolated drug users from friends, family and health supports, and the estimated number of annual overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 for the first time. The CDC’s findings echo years of research showing that poverty, incarceration, racist policing and the criminalization of drug users are all major factors behind the overdose crisis, but the response from policymakers and health care providers has been anything but equal.

For example, Black patients are far less likely than white people to access the most effective treatments for opioid addiction, one reason why rates of fatal overdoses among Black men were seven times higher compared to white men, according to the CDC. Among all Black and Hispanic people, overdose death rates grew fastest in local counties with the most income inequality — including in areas where addiction treatment has expanded. The findings echo a 2020 National Institutes of Health study showing that Black people and other people of color are not benefiting equally from investments in health care and addiction treatment meant to quell the overdose crisis.

In a call with reporters in late July, CDC officials called for increasing access to addiction treatments and harm reduction services such as syringe exchange programs that are medically proven to prevent overdose deaths and the spread of disease. Don’t expect to hear about this from Republicans, who have demonized lifesaving harm reduction services to score political points for years. Most recently, Republicans attacked the Biden administration’s extremely modest efforts to reduce overdose deaths by fund harm reduction services with memes falsely accusing the president of handing out “free crack pipes.”

The overdose crisis is a difficult and emotional issue for millions of people, and viral drug panics are perfect fodder for demagogues. The GOP’s timing for putting “fentanyl” and “invasion” at the center of a midterm strategy appears intentional. Look no further than the viral misinformation about so-called “rainbow fentanyl,” which showed up in law enforcement press releases just in time for the annual panic about drugs in Halloween candy, a misinformed media tradition dating back to the height of the drug war in the 1980s.

As Kastalia Medrano writes at Filter, drug sellers are adding colors such as blue (aka “blues”) to the fentanyl pills that have replaced prescription painkillers and traditional heroin in many illicit markets, but not in order to lure “young Americans” as law enforcement claims (police are a persistent source of misinformation about fentanyl in the media). If anything, Medrano writes, the added colors will help keep people safe:

[BLOCK QUOTE] People who don’t use drugs really hate this idea, but drug sellers have done more to keep people safe during the drug war than pretty much anyone else. The emergence of different colors of pressed pills alongside the blues won’t lure in younger buyers. If anything, it’ll help keep new buyers safe.

“For pain patients being cut off from access to pain medications because of deprescribing initiatives, they’re increasingly turning to street pills,” Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, a harm reduction-based researcher at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Filter. “Fake pills that are clearly fake are helpful for them to know that what they’re getting is not the OxyCodone they’re used to, but something more potent.” [End Block]

Attempting to stop opioids and other drugs that people depend on at the border will not bring down overdose deaths. Instead, we must look to other strategies for saving lives during a deadly drug war and public health crisis. These strategies often appear among drug users and sellers themselves. For example, harm reduction providers circulate fentanyl test strips so people involved with drugs they can identify pills and powders containing fentanyl and avoid accidental overdoses.

Trump, on the other hand, is once again calling for “drug dealers” to face the death penalty, even after pardoning people convicted of drug trafficking while in office. Like other Republicans — and even some Democrats — Trump hopes voters arrive at the ballot box with fear, not facts.

Categories: World News

DeSantis Accepts Fed Help for Florida — But in 2013 Tried to Block Aid Elsewhere

TruthOut - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 08:54

President Joe Biden and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis have been in constant talks with one another following the landfall of Hurricane Ian in Florida — but despite DeSantis’s willingness to collaborate with the president for hurricane relief for his state, he has a history of opposing hurricane relief funds for areas that are more Democratic-leaning.

On Thursday, Biden said that the “entire country hurts” in wake of the catastrophic damage and loss of life from Hurricane Ian, which left millions in the state without power.

“The numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” Biden said..

As of Thursday evening, there were 11 confirmed deaths in the state, but that number is expected to rise.

“This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history,” Biden said.

Biden has said that he plans to travel to Florida to examine the wreckage with DeSantis when “conditions allow” it. He also plans to travel to Puerto Rico to survey damages from Hurricane Fiona, which occurred earlier this month.

The president noted that his and DeSantis’s political views are “totally irrelevant to the situation at hand.”

“This is not about anything having to do with our disagreements politically, this is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses,” Biden said. “That’s what this is about.”

As of Thursday, Biden and DeSantis had spoken to each other four or five times in the lead-up to and the aftermath of the storm. DeSantis, who requested federal help for the disaster that ripped through his state this week, has said that he is “thankful” for Biden’s help during this time.

Notably, one of DeSantis’s first actions as a member of Congress in 2013 was to oppose billions of dollars in aid for relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York, New Jersey and other northeastern states that year. DeSantis voted against a $9.7 billion spending package to help those areas, claiming that he took issue with the proposal because it lasted more than a couple of years and was not fiscally responsible.

“The problem with the Sandy package was, if you look at it, only 30 percent of it was going to be spent in the first two years,” DeSantis said at the time.

When it comes to his own state, however, DeSantis has already noted that the relief efforts from the federal government will likely take several years to complete. The price tag for Hurricane Ian is also likely to far exceed that of Hurricane Sandy in 2013; some predict that federal aid to Florida could cost as much as $70 billion.

DeSantis’s opposition to funding hurricane aid in northeastern states has been widely condemned.

DeSantis, as well as Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, “voted against help for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. What absolute hypocrites,” lawyer Tristan Snell said on Twitter. “Florida should get all the help it needs, but Florida also deserves better leaders.”

Former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy, who often discusses political issues on his social media platforms, also denounced DeSantis’s hypocrisy.

“As a Congressman Ron DeSantis voted against federal disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Guess what DeSantis wants now? Federal disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Ian,” Van Gundy wrote.

DeSantis is a “total hypocrite,” Van Gundy added. “But Biden will do what DeSantis never does — he’ll put people above politics.”

Categories: World News

A piglet left behind by its herd finds a new family with some cattle

NPR - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 08:50
Wild boar Frida eats next to a cow Thursday in a pasture in Holzminden, Germany.

Wild boars have a reputation for destruction, but farmer Friedrich Stapel told a news agency that he can't bear to chase away the piglet, which he's named Frida. It'll winter with his mother cows.

(Image credit: Julian Stratenschulte/AP)

Categories: World News

“The Wind Knows Your Name”: Dahr Jamail on William Rivers Pitt

TruthOut - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 08:42

The title of William Rivers Pitt’s unpublished book about the pandemic is: Please Take This, Because I Love You and I Might Die. A COVID Diary. He sent me the manuscript not too long ago so I could read it, and give him input on where it might make the most sense to have it published.

With the pandemic, as he was consistently able to do, Will saw what was coming, knew the consequences could well be catastrophic, and behaved accordingly. Each of those things is a true gift. The ability (and willingness) to see what was coming before most people, knowing in his heart what the consequences could mean, and then taking appropriate actions to prepare. In the case of COVID-19, Will was being especially careful in order to protect his aging mother who has lung issues, his young daughter Lola, and perhaps with subconscious foreshadowing of his own death, he was making preparations for what was to come.

Will’s unpublished book is dedicated to Lola.

Iraq

I met Will during the early years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The propaganda leading up to the invasion, which of course ignored a dozen years of U.S.-imposed sanctions that strangled the country and killed at least half a million children, had deeply impacted us both. Will had already written a book (War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You To Know) that completely disassembled the lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction, upon which the entire justification for the illegal invasion and occupation was predicated. He had done what he could. Yet he was not going to stop taking the Bush administration to task. In fact, Will was just getting warmed up.

We met in Boston a couple of years into the occupation. Will was already one of my heroes, one of the few voices of reason, sanity and truth in the media in the U.S. I was reading his valiant, noble, fiery words toward that end for years, and he had been reading my articles from Iraq about the widespread death and destruction then unfolding — death and destruction he had done all he could to prevent, a deep and lasting friendship was born on the spot, one that would also yield a coauthored book published by this website, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: The Disintegration of a Nation, Why it is Happening, and Who is Responsible.

While I kept making my trips in and out of Iraq over the next years, Will continued writing his salvos of truth about what the Bush and then Obama administrations were doing in Iraq, covering the domestic political situation, and writing about it as fiercely and steadfastly as though his life depended on it. The many times I became dispirited while on the front lines of the brutal occupation, I would read Will’s latest column about whatever the Bush administration was doing to justify their ongoing atrocities in Iraq, and my fire to continue my work would be fed yet again.

Truly one of the most important public intellectuals, writers and commentators of our time, in losing Will, we’ve lost a voice that is irreplaceable, and I’ve lost one of my heroes.

Roads

Late this August, Will and I were exchanging emails about his unpublished book. I wrote him this:

I’m only part way through your book. Two months ago I lost my long-time climbing partner of 25 years in a rock fall accident…we were roped up…his body was literally hanging off me…so I’ve been in a deep grieving process this summer, otherwise I’d have already torn through your book.

Thanks for being out there carrying the torch brother.
Love,
Dahr

To which Will replied:

WHAT THE FUCK

Oh Jesus Dahr, I am so sorry.

I believe the inchoate universe puts its stamp on some people now and again, and it is woe to that person. The stamp means you are to suffer: To suffer from outside forces, and to suffer from an internal need to put that suffering into some context, to explain it, or to make some use of it if nothing else. It is a wailing of the soul, that stamp. The Buddhists call them Bodhisattvas, those who cross the precipice of enlightenment but come back for others, to guide them rather than pass over themselves. It is an altogether agonizing fate, for it brings wisdom, and wisdom is the most terrible thing of all.

Fuck my book. Stay on the mountain. The wind knows your name.

While I thought he’d gone too far with the Bodhisattva bit, I wrote him back and thanked him, from my heart, for his gracious words of comfort. These words of his, like everything he wrote, came from his heart, his soul, his own experience. Will was, by his own definition, a Bodhisattva, here to guide all of us with his wisdom, and his seeing.

“We stand today upon the fulcrum of history, a crossroads at midnight with a blood moon rising,” Will wrote in February 2019. “Down one road lies fire, flood, famine, failure and the final triumph of greed. What awaits down the other road is unknown, terra incognita, a mystery to be solved one gentle step at a time…. The road we have been on is littered with bones and sorrow. The road we must take is strange, and new, and dangerous, and difficult. There are no promises, other than it will be — by dint of our collective will — better than the way that is failing before our eyes. This crossroads is freedom distilled, and the time to choose is now.”

Will is now on the road each of us inevitably shall take. He showed us how to live a noble life. He made a living speaking truth to power. He did these things for all of us, and he did them because they were his to do. He did them because he could.

Most importantly, he did them because he knew with all his heart they were the right things to do.

Categories: World News

Namibia can become a green energy exporter, says first lady

CNN World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 08:41
With Europe looking for alternatives to Russian energy, the European Union has set a target to produce 11 million tons of green hydrogen, and import another 11 million tons, by 2030.
Categories: World News

Supreme Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson gets formal induction before the new term

NPR - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 08:40
Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson stands outside the Supreme Court with Chief Justice John Roberts, following her formal investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington on Sept. 30.

Ahead of the Supreme Court's term beginning next week, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson participated in a short, formal investiture ceremony on Friday.

(Image credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Categories: World News

Hurricane Ian bears down on Charleston, S.C., where roads are already flooding

NPR - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 08:22
A map shows coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia that could be inundated by storm surge from Hurricane Ian. Areas in orange could see more than 6 feet of water above ground; those in yellow could see more than 3 feet; blue signals 1 foot or more.

Hours ahead of Ian's arrival, a weather buoy in the ocean southeast of Charleston recorded 75-mph winds and waves as high as 21 feet.

(Image credit: Earthstar Geographics/Esri, HERE, Garmin)

Categories: World News

'Russia! Russia!' - chants end Putin's Ukraine speech

BBC World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 07:42
President Putin conducts a signing ceremony announcing the illegal seizure of four areas of Ukraine.
Categories: World News

How a debate over textbooks closed 150 schools in East Jerusalem

CNN World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 07:41
On September 19, some 150 schools in East Jerusalem went on strike, keeping tens of thousands of students out of the classroom, to protest the introduction of Israeli textbooks.
Categories: World News

Ukraine war: Putin raises stakes in speech full of anti-Western bile

BBC World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 07:39
The Russian leader's fiery speech is an attempt to divert from Russia's problems on the battlefield.
Categories: World News

EU agrees to tax windfall oil and gas profits amid 'insane race' to tame energy crisis

CNN World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 07:26
EU governments agreed Friday to tax the windfall profits of oil and gas companies and to cap the revenues of some electricity generators as the cost of Europe's energy crisis spirals higher.
Categories: World News

Hospitals have specialists on call for lots of diseases — but not addiction. Why not?

NPR - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 07:14
David Cave, a recovery coach who is part of an addiction specialty team at Salem Hospital, north of Boston, stands outside the emergency department.

U.S. overdose deaths have exceeded 100,000 a year, yet few hospitals are equipped to treat patients with addiction. A new kind of treatment team connect patients with help before they're discharged.

(Image credit: Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Categories: World News

Lev Tahor Jewish sect members escape facility in Mexico

BBC World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 06:58
Members of the Lev Tahor group forced their way past guards at the site in Huixtla.
Categories: World News

The Top 1% of Emitters Caused Almost a Quarter of Global Emissions Since 1990

TruthOut - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 06:57

Just 1% of the world’s population was responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions over 1990-2019, new research finds.

The study, published in Nature Sustainability, highlights the inequality in peoples’ greenhouse gas footprints — a cornerstone of the climate justice movement.

In 2019, people living in sub-Saharan Africa produced 1.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) each on average, the study finds. In North America, average per capita was more than 10 times higher, while the top 10% of the continent’s emitters produced almost 70tCO2e.

To have a “high” chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures, average global per-capita emissions need to fall to 1.9 tCO2e by 2050, the study notes.

When assessing individual contributions to global warming, researchers often focus on emissions from goods and services that people consume. This study presents an update to this method by also including the emissions from a person’s investments in their greenhouse gas footprint. This allows the study to more accurately represent the emissions of the wealthy — which largely come from investments.

“Individuals can consume carbon, but they can also own [and invest in] firms that produce carbon,” the lead author of the study tells Carbon Brief, adding that his work “is proposing a method that is going to integrate these different bits of our carbon footprints together”.

Focusing on 1990-2019, the findings show that investment was the main source of emissions for the top 1% of emitters. And the per capita emissions of the top 1% grew by 26%, while the top 0.01% saw growth of 80%.

Wealth and Emissions

Humans release billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. However, these emissions are disproportionately produced by wealthier people, who typically live more carbon-intensive lifestyles.

Recent research suggests the average person living in sub-Saharan Africa produces 0.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2) every year, while the average US citizen produces 14.5tCO2. Carbon Brief analysis has also shown that the US alone is responsible for one-fifth of all CO2 emissions since 1850.

The new paper uses an income and wealth inequality dataset from the World Inequality Database to track inequality over 1990-2019. It combines economic data with information on per-capita carbon footprints — calculated using “input-output” methodologies combined with data from the “distributional national accounts” project.

The paper assesses three components of a person’s greenhouse gas footprint. The first is private consumption — made up of emissions from the direct use of fuel and emissions embedded into goods and services. The second includes emissions from government spending in that person’s country — such as government administration, public roads or defence.

The final component of a person’s carbon footprint is investment. Dr Lucas Chancel, from the Paris School of Economics, is the sole author of the new study. He tells Carbon Brief that when someone invests in a company, they are in part responsible for the emissions produced by the day-to-day activities of that firm.

Chancel highlights the global inequality between high and low emitters:

“I find that, in 2019, the bottom 50% of the world population emitted 12% of global emissions, whereas the top 10% emitted 48% of the total.”

Looking in more detail the 174 countries included in this study, he shows the inequality between high and low emitters in different regions. The plot below shows tonnes of CO2 equivalent emitted per person per year for the top 10% (red), middle 40% (dark blue) and bottom 50% (light blue) of emitters in different regions of the world.

Per-capita emissions (tCO2e) in 2019, for the top 10%, middle 40%, and bottom 50% of emitters, grouped by region.Per-capita emissions (tCO2e) in 2019, for the top 10%, middle 40%, and bottom 50% of emitters, grouped by region.Data source: Chancel et al (2022). Chart by Tom Prater for Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

Sub-Saharan Africa has particularly low per-capita emissions. The bottom half of emitters are responsible for just 0.5tCO2e each year, while the top 10% emit around 7.5tCO2e.

In contrast, even the bottom 50% of emitters in North America have annual emissions above 10tCO2e. Meanwhile, the top 10% of the continent’s emitters are responsible for almost 70tCO2e every year.

Dr Anne Owen — a senior research fellow at the University of Leeds, who was not involved in the study — tells Carbon Brief that this is “an ambitious and impressive piece of work”, adding that the “robust” data and methods “allow for a consistent comparison between countries”.

Emissions Inequality

The paper goes on to explore how per-capita emissions have changed over 1990-2019 for different emitting groups. It finds that, since 1990, average global per-capita emissions have grown by more than 2%, but that this growth was not uniform across emitting groups.

Chancel tells Carbon Brief that the broad trends in emissions inequality have not changed much over the study period, but notes that “at the very top of the distribution, you see quite a bit of action”.

He finds that per-capita emissions of the top 1% of emitters in the world grew by 26% over 1990-2019. The top 0.01% saw an even larger rise of 80%. Meanwhile, the bottom half of emitters saw a more modest 16% increase in per-capita emissions. And the “lower- and middle-income groups of the rich countries” saw a drop in per capita emissions of 5-15%.

This can be seen in the left-hand chart below, which shows the percentage change in per-capita emissions for different global emitter groups over 1990-2019 (blue line). In general, individuals in richer countries fall into the “higher emitting” groups, and are found on the right of the chart, while the lowest emitters are found on the left.

Percentage change in per capita emissions for different global emitter groups over 1990-2019 (left) and changes in emissions inequality between countries and within countries, based on an “index of inequality” (right). Percentage change in per capita emissions for different global emitter groups over 1990-2019 (left) and changes in emissions inequality between countries and within countries, based on an “index of inequality” (right).Source: Chancel et al (2022)

Dr Narasimha Rao – an associate professor of energy systems at the Yale School of Environment, who peer reviewed the study – tells Carbon Brief that it is “striking”, but “unsurprising” to see “the disproportionate growth in the emissions of the global elite around the world”.

Growing inequality within countries has also shaped global emissions over the past three decades, according to the paper.

It finds that, in 1990, while the average citizen of a rich country “polluted unequivocally more” than much of the rest of the world, the wealth gap between individuals within the same country was “on average lower across the globe than today”. However, “the situation has entirely reversed in 30 years”, the study says.

This is reflected in the right-hand chart above. It shows that, in 1990, the largest driver of global emission inequality was due to inequality between countries (red line). By 2019, this had shifted so that within-country emission inequality was the dominant driver (blue line).

In other words, while global emissions inequality in 1990 was primarily driven by the difference in emissions between residents of richer and poorer countries, it is now increasingly driven by the difference in emissions of people living within each country, rich or poor.

“Economic inequality within countries continues to drive a lot of the dynamics that we observe in terms of pollution,” Chancel tells Carbon Brief. He adds that understanding these inequalities is “key” to understanding “how to solve the climate crisis”.

The Top 1%

In February 2022, a group of researchers published a study on the global inequality in carbon emissions. It found that the average carbon footprint in the top 1% of emitters was more than 75-times higher than in the bottom 50%.

Dr Wiliam Lamb – a researcher at the Mercator Research Institute, who was not involved in the study – praised the paper. However, he told Carbon Brief that by focusing solely on consumption, the paper did not accurately capture the emissions of the “super-rich”, as “their earnings may be derived from investments while their expenditures can be shrouded in secrecy”.

Chancel tells Carbon Brief that “people who think about carbon footprints just from the point of view of consumption don’t have the entire picture”. By using a “systematic combination of tax data, household surveys and input-output tables” the new study is able to more fully represent the emissions of the very wealthy, it says.

Chancel adds:

“Individuals can consume carbon, but they can also own [and invest in] firms that produce carbon. So here the exercise is proposing a method that is going to integrate these different bits of our carbon footprints together in a consistent framework where I’m not counting the same tonne of carbon twice.”

The plot below shows the percentage of emissions from different emitter groups that come from investments — rather than consumption of goods and services or government spending.

The percentage of emissions by different groups of emitters that can be traced to their investments, rather than to their consumption. The percentage of emissions by different groups of emitters that can be traced to their investments, rather than to their consumption.Source: Chancel et al (2022).

For the top 1% of emitters, the majority of emissions can be traced back to investments, the study finds. It adds that while the share of emissions linked to investment has risen for the top 10% of emitters over the past decade, it has dropped for the bottom 50%.

Chancel explains that this change in investing patterns is driven by the rising wealth gaps within countries.

Dr Klaus Hubacek — a professor of science, technology and society at the University of Groningen, and author of the study published earlier this year — tells Carbon Brief that he is “excited” about the inclusion of investments in this study and that “more effort needs to go into that direction”.

Warming Targets

To put these results into context, Chancel compares present-day emissions to those needed to limit warming to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels.

The plot below shows average carbon footprints in different regions of the world in 2019 and the average global emissions needed to limit warming to 1.5C or 2C – assuming that emissions are split evenly across the global population.

Average carbon footprints in different regions of the world in 2019, and the average global emissions needed to limit warming to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels.Average carbon footprints in different regions of the world in 2019, and the average global emissions needed to limit warming to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels.Source: Chancel et al (2022).

The plot shows that to limit warming to 1.5C, average per-capita emissions need to drop by more than two-thirds from their 2019 value of 6tCO2e. This would require all regions except sub-Saharan Africa to reduce emissions, the paper says, and citizens of North America would need to slash its emissions more than 10-fold to meet the target.

In addition, a “large part of the population in rich countries already appears to be near 2030 national climate targets when these are expressed in per-capita terms”, the paper notes.

For example, it says, “nationally determined contributions (NDCs) established under the rubric of the Paris Agreement imply a per-capita target of around 10t of CO2e in the US”. The chart below shows 2019 per-capita emissions by income group (left) and how much these would need to change to meet the 10tCO2e target (right) for the US (top) and China (bottom) for 2030.

Per-capita emissions (left) and emissions changes needed to meet a 10tCO2e per-capita target for 2030 (right) for the US (top) and China (bottom) – and different emitter levels.Per-capita emissions (left) and emissions changes needed to meet a 10tCO2e per-capita target for 2030 (right) for the US (top) and China (bottom) – and different emitter levels.Source: Chancel et al (2022).

In the US, the richest 10% of the population would have to reduce its emissions by nearly 90% to reach the 2030 target. However, the bottom 50% of emitters would need to make little change.

In China, the difference between emitter groups is even more noticeable. All but the top 10% of the population could stay below their personal greenhouse gas allowances, even if their emissions rise considerably between today and 2030, the study finds. However, the top 10% of the country’s emitters would need to slash emissions by around three-quarters.

“Much is written about the emissions-intensive growth of people buying new appliances and cars as they rise out of poverty”, Rao tells Carbon Brief. However, he says this study “starkly reveals the need to focus on luxury emissions”.

Chancel tells Carbon Brief that he would like to see governments keeping track of how emissions are distributed across their countries, as they do with wealth and GDP data. “There is a lot of work ahead,” he says.

Categories: World News

COP27: Egypt pressed to make human rights move before climate summit

BBC World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 06:22
Effective climate action is not possible without a freer society in host Egypt, activists say.
Categories: World News

What you need to know about Brazil's presidential election

NPR - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 06:02

As one of the world's largest democracies heads to the polls on Sunday, here are the main candidates and issues in the Brazilian election.

(Image credit: Left: Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images; Right: Andre Penner/AP)

Categories: World News

Putin formally annexes territories in Ukraine, in spite of global opposition

NPR - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 05:42
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during a ceremony formally annexing four regions of Ukraine Russian troops occupy, at the Kremlin in Moscow on Friday.

The Russian president signed what he calls "accession treaties" that world powers refuse to recognize. It's his latest attempt to redraw the map of Europe at Ukraine's expense.

(Image credit: Gavriil Grigorov/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Categories: World News

Threats to water and biodiversity are linked. A new U.S. envoy role tackles them both

NPR - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 05:40
Monica Medina, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs is pictured on Sept. 20 in New York City. She will take on additional responsibilities as an envoy on biodiversity and water resources.

"The loss of nature and rising water insecurity are global health threats that must be confronted together," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

(Image credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for WWF Internation)

Categories: World News

What Russian annexation means for Ukraine's regions

BBC World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 05:32
How will Russia annex four occupied regions it does not fully control, while in the middle of a war?
Categories: World News

Afghanistan blast: Relatives search for loved ones after college attack

BBC World News - Fri, 09/30/2022 - 05:21
The attack has left residents of the capital reeling and frantically searching for family members.
Categories: World News

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