With a specific focus on the United States and the United Kingdom, Carbon Inequality studies the role of the richest people in contributing to climate change via their luxury consumption and their investments. In an innovative contribution, it attempts to quantify personal responsibility for shareholdings in large fossil fuel companies.
This book explores the implications of the richest people’s historic responsibility for global warming, the impacts of which affect them less than most others in global society. Kenner analyses how the richest people running large oil and gas companies have successfully used their political influence to lobby the US and UK government. This assessment of their growing political power is particularly pertinent at a time of increasing inequality and growing public awareness of the impact of climate change. The book also highlights the crucial role of the richest in blocking the low-carbon transition in the US and the UK, exploring how this could be countered to ensure fossil fuels are fully replaced by renewable energy.
This book will be of great relevance to scholars and policy makers with an interest in inequality, climate change and sustainability transitions.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Climate Change and The Role of the Richest
1. The Carbon Footprint of Luxury Consumption
2. The Investment Emissions of the Polluter Elite
3. The Polluter Elite and Moral Responsibility
4. The Decisive Political Influence of the Polluter Elite
5. Destabilising the Polluter Elite
Dario Kenner is a visiting fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute based at Anglia Ruskin University, UK. This book builds on his 2015 working paper Inequality of Overconsumption: the Ecological Footprint of the Richest, published by Anglia Ruskin University.
"Carbon Inequality is an important and powerful book. It calls attention to the disproportionate climate change impact of the rich based on their luxury consumption. Further, a 'polluter elite' is newly identified - wealthy people with significant fossil fuel shareholdings. The book highlights their moral responsibility for climate change and shows how their political influence slows the transition away from fossil fuels. It calls for this elite, and their support for oil and gas, to be destabilised. By challenging the power of the polluter elite, and presenting positive policy suggestions, this book is an original and persuasive response to the Climate Emergency." -- Tina Fawcett, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK
"All too often, public discussion about cutting fossil fuel consumption concentrates entirely on individual consumers. Dario Kenner’s thoroughly researched book shifts the focus to the rich and powerful elite that bears the main responsibility, and to the political and economic structures over which it presides." -- Simon Pirani, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, UK
"Carbon Inequality marks an important step forward in our understanding of the ecological crisis as a political and economic crisis. In his book, Dario Kenner connects the dots between key drivers of climate change – conspicuous consumption, fossil fuel investment, and political influence over energy policy. At the centre of this web are wealthy individuals and corporations that have a disproportionate impact on our planetary crisis. Only by curtailing the destructive behaviour of this global ‘polluter elite’ can the many challenges of the Anthropocene be overcome." -- Kevin MacKay, social science professor, Canada, and author of Radical Transformation: Oligarchy, Collapse, and the Crisis of Civilization