Image copyright EPA Image caption Billionaire investor Peter Thiel wants to “get wealthy people interested in environmentalism”
There is plenty of scope for rich people to save the planet from climate change.
A report out this week from the European Commission showed that a fifth of the world’s population would benefit from an average 1% increase in climate action.
If those 1% of people who do not currently lead a healthy lifestyle were persuaded to make healthier choices, there would be a major positive impact on the environment.
Disadvantaged people would be the biggest beneficiaries.
“We know that investing in climate action should be a priority for the wealthiest people in the world,” says Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and the Silicon Valley billionaire and investor, who is chair of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.
“We know that focusing on household energy efficiency reduces the need for scarce fossil fuel resources,” Mr Thiel adds.
“Together, we can change personal habits and help to save the planet.”
Number of people ‘explicitly benefiting’ from climate change action
Image copyright Alamy Image caption Millions of people in developing countries, who do not have access to clean energy, may benefit from this report
According to the report published by the European Commission on Wednesday, changes in the way people live energy bills “may result in billions of dollars saved each year, which can be directly directed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.
Individual decisions to lead a healthier lifestyle can have a greater positive impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions than cutting entire industries or stopping infrastructure projects.
1.1 billion people who do not live in developed countries are explicitly benefiting from climate action.
An additional 1.1 billion live in developing countries, where clean energy is not widely available.
Exclusive Report: How climate change could affect rich and poor in 2050
“In order to solve the climate crisis, we need all people to change their behaviour,” says Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella.
To achieve positive effects, people who suffer from poor diets and unhealthy lifestyles should aim to choose more healthy options, said the Commission.
It recommended that policies on carbon pricing and small changes to buildings, such as installing energy-efficient lighting, should be accompanied by efforts to reduce food miles by bringing local food sources to more restaurants and supermarkets.
Clean energy will reduce demands on fossil fuels and also help with renewable energies.
As such, the report emphasises investments in clean energy, which can be concentrated in poorer countries, where renewable energy capacity will help to cut carbon emissions.
The report highlights that better access to clean energy in developing countries could help tackle the high carbon intensity of certain industries, such as textiles and transport.
“Countries which use a high proportion of fossil fuels often import their cotton,” notes the report.
At the moment, the majority of cotton comes from the US, so cutting back on the use of this commodity would also help reduce carbon emissions.