According to exclusive research, 12 of the world’s wealthiest billionaires produce more greenhouse gas emissions than 2 million homes annually through their yachts, private jets, mansions, and financial investments. These tycoons include Jeff Bezos, Roman Abramovich, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Michael Dell, Elon Musk, and Carlos Slim.
Oxfam analyzed the billionaires’ luxury purchases, financial investments, and shareholdings. Oxfam found that these activities account for nearly 17 million tons of CO2 and equivalent greenhouse gas emissions each year. This is the same amount of emissions generated by 2.1 million US homes.
Statista reports that the average US home consists of 2.5 members. Therefore, the 12 billionaires’ CO2 emissions equal those of approximately 5.2 million people.
The analysis also estimated the carbon emissions of specific purchases, such as Bezos’ recently built $500 million superyacht. This vessel emits a minimum of around 7,154 tons of carbon annually.
Superyachts have carbon footprints that greatly surpass those of private jets. Oxfam estimates that a superyacht on standby emits around 7,000 tons of CO2 annually.
According to The Guardian, the emissions from superyachts are significantly higher than any other source. These yachts require constant maintenance and crew even when docked. They also come equipped with helicopters, jetskis, luxury items like pools and hot tubs, as well as power-consuming features such as private submarines and tenders.
Ironically, many of the billionaires analyzed in Oxfam’s study have created organizations dedicated to fighting climate change. Jeff Bezos has poured $10 billion into his Earth Fund. In addition, Bill Gates founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investment firm that has given over $2 billion in funding to clean energy start-ups.
Gates and Bezos (pictured above) argue that they offset all of their emissions by purchasing carbon offset credits. Carbon offset credits allow purchasers to increase their emissions in exchange for sellers cutting their own. The carbon offset market has been dismissed as a scam by prominent environmental organizations such as Greenpeace.
Oxfam determined the carbon footprints of the billionaires’ investments by analyzing their ownership stakes in companies. To estimate the carbon impact of their holdings, the study considered the company’s reported scope 1 emissions (direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company) and scope 2 emissions (indirect emissions).
Oxfam’s study also analyzed a broader group of 125 billionaires, who were found to emit an average of 3.1 million tons of CO2 per year. This is more than 650,000 times higher than the global average carbon footprint.
Image Source: Salon