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The polluter elite, inequality and the ecological crisis

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International Institute for Environment and Development

80-86 Gray's Inn Road

London

WC1X 8NH

United Kingdom

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Critical theme: The polluter elite, inequality and the ecological crisis

The transition to a greener economy is not inevitable. At the moment renewable energy is growing alongside the deeply entrenched fossil fuel economy. Despite growing scientific evidence, governments still lack the political will to phase out fossil fuels and halt mass species extinction. We already know that one of the main obstacles are the vested interests lobbying to defend business as usual.

Dario Kenner has spent several years studying the wealthy people who run fossil fuel multinationals, a group he calls the 'polluter elite'. He discusses how the polluter elite in the United States and the UK have blocked the transition to a greener economy in his newly published book 'Carbon Inequality'. He looks at their personal motivation to defend their net worth and their unequal ability to pollute. In addition to their luxury consumption he has also begun to quantify personal emissions associated with shareholdings. This is what differentiates the richest from the rest of the population and opens up new options for campaigns, in particular based on historical responsibility.

There is very little time left to dramatically transform production and consumption patterns in the UK and around the world. The polluter elite have defined what is “politically possible” for too long. It is crucial to recognise that while their political power is growing it is starting to be directly challenged by protests on the streets, declarations of a climate emergency and potentially by a Green New Deal.

What role can campaigning organisations play in this evolving context to build on existing campaigns to try and guarantee the long-term changes on the rapid scale that are needed? How can inequality and environmental issues be campaigned on together in tangible ways that engage the public?

About the speaker:
Dario Kenner is the author of the newly published book Carbon Inequality: The role of the richest in climate change (Routledge, 2019). This book builds on his 2015 working paper 'Inequality of Overconsumption: the Ecological Footprint of the Richest', which he presented at a 2016 IIED critical theme on tackling inequality and unsustainable consumption.




About attending:

How do I get there?
IIED is on Gray's Inn Road in Central London. The closest tube stations are Chancery Lane and Kings Cross.

Is there disabled access?
Yes

If you have any questions about attending, please email us at this address: anne.schulthess@iied.org.

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International Institute for Environment and Development

80-86 Gray's Inn Road

London

WC1X 8NH

United Kingdom

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