According to a report by the NGOs Greenpeace and Oxfam, the financial assets of 63 French billionaires correspond to at least an annual carbon footprint of 280 million tons of CO2 equivalent. That is more than Belgium, Denmark, Portugal and Sweden combined.
Wealth is very unevenly distributed around the world as almost half of the world’s wealth is owned by just 1% of the population. Likewise, the carbon footprint of individuals grows rapidly depending on the portfolio. In other words, the richest people are also the ones most likely to pollute.
According to this Greenpeace-Oxfam report released on Tuesday, February 22, the trend appears to be the same in France. The research was conducted by the two NGOs, based not on their way of life and the environmental footprint of their yacht or second home, but on the financial assets of the billionaires’ companies in question. “We have assigned each billionaire a portion of the carbon footprint of the company in which they own the most shares, known as the ‘main company’.”, specify the NGOs in a press release.
In one year, the financial assets of 63 French billionaires emit a whopping 91% of the French population. In numbers, this carbon footprint translates into at least 280 million tons of CO2 equivalent. That is more than Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Portugal combined.
According to the research, five French billionaires emit as much from their financial assets as two-thirds of the French. Among the five billionaires who pollute the most, we find the Wendel family, who made a fortune in an investment bank, Gérard Mulliez, founder and owner of the Auchan stores, Rodolphe Saadé, maritime transport company, Emmanuel Besnier, owner of Lactalis and Jacques Merceron- Vicat, from the international cement group Vicat.
For example, the Mulliez family alone emits no less than 11% of French households, more than all the inhabitants of a region like New Aquitaine.
Towards a climate ISF?
“To ensure a socially just ecological transition, the software change is simple: the weight of the ecological transition must be transferred from the most precarious consumers, who pollute the least, to the richest producers, who pollute the most and have the resources. . transform these production tools”points out Alexandre Poidatz, Finance and Climate Advocacy Officer at Oxfam France.
To overcome these stark inequalities and make the ecological transition more sustainable “socially acceptable”, Greenpeace and Oxfam propose creating a “Climate ISF”. As the name suggests, the idea would be to introduce a wealth tax specifically linked to climate spending that could yield, according to the study. “at least 12.5 billion euros in 2022, thanks to the climate component alone”.
The report’s two NGO authors also propose introducing an additional tax on dividends for companies that do not respect the Paris Agreement and that “at least 17 billion euros to public finances. †
“The 15 million tons of CO2 that the state must remove by the end of the year, after the Affair of the Century verdict, is first in the pockets of billionaires,” believes Clément Sénéchal, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace France.
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