UK emissions already outstrip Rwanda's annual total for 2020 – Oxfam

6th January 2020


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The average Briton has already emitted more carbon this year than a typical Rwandan citizen will over the next 12 months, Oxfam research has uncovered.

The charity described the findings as a “staggering injustice“, revealing that it takes just five days for the UK's per capita emissions to overtake Rwanda's annual total.

It also found that, by 12 January, the average Briton would have emitted more carbon than citizens in Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Madagascar, Guinea and Burkina Faso do in a whole year.

The sheer scale of global inequality when it comes to carbon emissions is staggering, said Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB.

“It's a shock to realise that in just a few days our high-carbon lifestyles here in the UK produce the same emissions as the annual footprint of people in some poor countries.

The findings show that the UK's annual per capita carbon emissions are around 8.4 tonnes, compared with just 0.09 tonnes in Rwanda, 1.7 tonnes in India and a global average of 4.7 tonnes.

Despite this, polling for Oxfam found that more than half of Britons worry about the impact of climate change and are likely to take actions to cut their carbon footprint.

The responses ranged from 79% of people who said they are likely to recycle more, down to 38% who are likely to change their diet, such as by eating less meat or dairy.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they were likely to use energy efficient products or utility providers, while almost half said they were likely to limit their air travel.

In addition, the findings show that 61% of people in Britain want the government to do more to address the climate emergency.

Oxfam called on the prime minister to grasp the opportunity of hosting this year's COP climate summit by kick-starting negotiations and ensuring that public concern about climate change is translated into action.

“Just as large numbers of the public are resolving to reduce their carbon footprint, we need a bold New Year's resolution from the prime minister to get us on track to net-zero emissions much earlier than the current 2050 deadline, Sriskandarajah said.

As the UK government gets ready to host global climate talks later this year, it needs to show that it is deadly serious about leading the fight against climate change.“

Image credit: ©iStock

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