The idea of ​​an ISF climate is gaining ground

Audio 04:02

Global Day of Action on Climate Change in Sydney on November 6, 2021. AFP - STEVEN SAPHORE

By: Anne Verdaguer Follow

4 min

While the debates resume on Monday at the Glasgow climate conference for a second week, the question of inequalities in the face of climate change and in the face of the efforts to be made vis-à-vis these changes is constantly being raised.


In a


published on October 21, economist Lucas Chancel, specialist in inequalities and the environment and co-director of the Laboratory on Global Inequalities, believes that a progressive wealth tax should be implemented, a kind of 'ISF climat.

Indeed, 10% of the richest population on the planet, is responsible for about half of all greenhouse gas emissions, while the poorest half of the population emits only 12%. .

Worse still, since 1990 (the study covers thirty years), the emissions of the 1% of the richest people have increased more rapidly than those of the rest of the population (8.5 billion tonnes or on average 110 tonnes of CO2 per member of this group compared to 1.6 tonnes emitted on average in 2019 by the poorest 50%). There are two reasons for this: the rise in inequalities within countries ... and this, despite the economic growth of several so-called emerging countries. But also, the rich emit much more through their so-called “indirect” emissions, through the goods and services they buy, but also through the investments they make. 

Bottom line: almost half of all emissions are due to one-tenth of the world's population, and only one-hundredth of the world's population (77 million people) emits about 50% more than the entire bottom half of the population. (3.8 billion people). 

Contrary to popular belief, it is therefore not simply a question of a divide between rich and poor countries, there are also big disparities within the countries themselves since the efforts to reduce emissions that the States have set themselves. United, Great Britain and France, have already been reached for half by the poorest part of the population. 

Disparities within each country but also between polluting countries

Unsurprisingly, developed countries remain at the top of the list of the biggest polluters: an inhabitant of the United States emits on average twice as much CO2 as a European or a Russian, four times more than a Latin American, thirteen times more than an African. 

These questions are crucial because we really have to understand who, in the end, will have to pay to reduce their CO2 emissions?

Because the fact that global warming is an accelerator of inequalities is not new, what is, however, is the realization that to achieve zero carbon in 2050, it will now be necessary to take these inequalities into account. account and demand more effort from those who pollute the most, roughly the top half of the population, and in particular the top 10%.

In the end, this seems quite logical, it is the polluter pays principle, but in reality it is much different. 

A vicious circle 

Hence the idea of ​​a progressive climate tax for the better-off, a climate ISF that would penalize portfolio investments in polluting companies. A form of carbon tax intended for those who emit the most. This would avoid repeating the same mistake that led to the yellow vests crisis when the French government wanted to increase the carbon tax without redistributing its revenues to the poorest households or worrying the consumption or investment habits of the richest. 

The economist Lucas Chancel in a column published in

Le Monde

, notes that a more egalitarian strategy is needed because, basically, this is also what prevents progress, modest households anticipate climate policies that would put a strain on their level of life and the announcement of the introduction of the fuel tax is a good example. 

The economist therefore recommends, among other things, a tax rate of 10% on the value of carbon assets held by multimillionaires around the world that would bring, according to the Laboratory on inequalities, 100 billion dollars per year.

Enough to finance the major part of the investments necessary each year to carry out the energy transition.


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