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Poor of a country emits less, lose more: New paper calls for progressive taxes for ‘polluting elites’

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment, Conservation


Source: DTE 

Context: According to the Climate Inequality Report 2023, low and middle-income countries are disproportionately impacted by climate change even though they emit less GHGs than their richer counterparts.


Findings of the report:

  • 48% of emissions are from the top 10% of emitters, having 76% capacity to finance and their relative loss is a mere 3% from climate change.
  • The global bottom (50%) has only a 2% capacity to invest, with an emission of 12% and a massive relative loss of 75%.
  • Climate change contributes to economic destitution in subtropical and tropical countries. For instance, it reduces agricultural productivity in poorer nations while increasing it in some temperate nations.
  • Climate change also has adverse effects on mental health. For example, a 1 degree Celsius increase in monthly average temperatures increases suicide rates by 2.1% in Mexico.


Suggestions in the report:

  • The wealthiest individuals (0.001% of the world’s adult population) with over $100 million should pay a ‘progressive tax’ ranging from 1.5-3% of their fortune to help less fortunate people adapt to global warming and crisis.
  • Combating global poverty need not overshoot global carbon budgets to meet the Paris Agreement
  • Redistribution measures to combine poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation efforts.
  • Emerging economies like China carry increased responsibility to produce transparent strategies for reaching Net Zero emissions.



  • The need for a just transition to a low-carbon economy reflects unequal responsibility for causing the climate crisis and uneven capacity to help address it.
  • Not only countries but also individuals have different responsibilities (common but differentiated responsibilities) toward combating climate change and ensuring climate justice.



Insta Links:

Working towards climate justice in a non-ideal world


Mains Links:

Q. ‘Climate Change’ is a global problem. How will India be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India are affected by climate change? (UPSC 2017)