XR Oxford takes to the streets to highlight how the richest are destroying our planet 

Today Oxford Extinction Rebellion was on Cornmarket Street protesting the fact that the richest 1% in the world produce as much carbon pollution as the poorest two-thirds.

The Cornmarket Street action included speeches and drumming, and colourful flags and banners. XR members talked with many passers-by, who also took part in a survey which asked for people’s reaction to this extreme inequality, and for their suggestions for realistic and fair solutions. The group unveiled a graph showing how greenhouse gas emissions are heavily concentrated amongst the wealthiest. Ironically this graph forms the shape of a champagne coupe. 

The richest in society are super-charging climate breakdown through: 

  1.  their extravagant lifestyles (e.g. use of private jets) 
  2.  their investments in fossil fuels and polluting industries
  3.  their influence on politics and the media

XR member Dr Ines Smyth (75, local resident) said: ‘While ordinary people are doing their best to reduce carbon emissions, the super-rich are doing whatever they like. In the UK a person in the richest 1% emits in one year the amount of CO2 that those in the lowest income bracket would take 26 years to generate. How is this fair when the poorest lack the means to counter both the effects of climate change and of inequality?’

Not only are the richest contributing to the planet’s destruction; they are also avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Over 90% of deaths from climate related disasters in the last 50 years were in the poorer countries of the Global South. Even in the UK, people on lower incomes are often worse affected by heatwaves and flooding. 

XR member Dr Daniela Tramonti (51, local resident) said: ‘We urgently need higher taxes on the super-rich and on polluting companies, and financial support for the most affected countries. We also need investment in green energy and industries to support a fast and fair transition away from planet-wrecking fossil fuels.’

Lisa Barresi, an Oxford resident who spoke to the group, said: ‘I was shocked to see how the most privileged in society are wrecking things for the rest of us. It made me want to get involved in changing things for the better.’

Note: All quoted stats come from the Oxfam Climate Equality Report