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A British citizen emits more CO2 in two weeks than some people in Africa do in a year, research shows

CEO of Oxfam GB calls ‘global inequality’ in carbon emissions ‘staggering’

Zoe Tidman
Monday 06 January 2020 12:32 GMT
Scientists have created an 'artificial leaf' that could turn carbon dioxide into fuel

The average person in the UK will have a greater carbon footprint by 12 January than some people in seven African nations will have in a year, research shows.

By this month’s second week, a British citizen will have overtaken a single person’s annual emissions in Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Madagascar, Guinea and Burkina Faso, according to Oxfam.

It takes someone in the UK just five days to emit the same amount of carbon as someone in Rwanda does across a whole year, data extracted from Global Carbon Atlas shows.

The UK ranked 36th in the world for its CO2 emissions from consumption spread across its population, totalling at 8.34 tonnes per person in 2017 – the last year when such data for the UK was available.

The global average for that year was 4.7 tonnes of CO2 per person.

Eighteen out of the 20 lowest carbon emitters per capita were African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe, all falling under 1 tonne of CO2 per person for the year.

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

"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.”

However, he said it was "encouraging" that many Britons were taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints.

In June, the UK committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, however doubt has been cast by various campaign groups and reports over whether the country can meet this pledge as it stands.

A Science and Technology Select Committee report warned the UK looked set to miss its climate goals unless better climate policies were implemented.

An open letter by Oxfam is urging Boris Johnson “to make the climate emergency his top priority”.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy​ spokesperson said: “Tackling climate change is a national priority and we are determined to address it."

They said: “Since 1990, we have reduced our emissions by over 40 per cent while growing the economy by over two thirds. But we are determined to do more to increase the momentum and drive ambitious action both in in the run up to and at this year’s COP26 talks in Glasgow”.

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