Report finds UK’s top 1% earners responsible for seven times more transport emissions than average

New Report Finds UK’s Highest Earners Responsible for Majority of Transportation Emissions

A recent report has revealed that a small portion of the UK’s highest earners are responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The study, conducted by the left-leaning IPPR thinktank, found that the top 1% of earners – those making at least £160,000 per year – emit at least seven times more emissions from their travel than the average person. This number jumps to 13 times more emissions when compared to the lowest earners.

The research highlights the role of a “small minority” of the population in contributing to the majority of emissions from cars, planes, and trains. This has sparked a debate about implementing a levy on frequent fliers as a means of reducing the carbon-intensive form of travel.

The report also revealed disparities in emissions based on gender and race. Men were found to be higher emitters than women, as they cover significantly more distance by both car and plane. Additionally, white Brits tend to travel more and emit more than British people of colour. On the other hand, those from deprived neighborhoods and individuals with disabilities tend to travel and pollute far less.

IPPR argues that reducing these emissions would not only improve air pollution and quality of life, but also tackle inequality. The thinktank suggests that changes should start with those who can best afford it. Dr Maya Singer Hobbs, senior research fellow at IPPR, stated, “Our transport system both reflects and contributes to social inequalities. Reducing emissions can actually tackle some of that injustice, if done fairly. But while not everyone needs to make the same changes, those who are financially best off need to do the most.”

According to separate polling by thinktank More in Common, the idea of taxing the travel of the wealthy is quite popular in the UK and Europe. In April, their poll found that if green taxes were to be implemented on flying, the public would want them to start with private jets and first-class flyers.

While the UK’s overall emissions are decreasing, the report highlights the lack of progress in reducing emissions from transportation. The country has successfully lowered emissions from the power sector by moving away from coal power, but has made limited progress in reducing transportation emissions in the past three decades.

Currently, domestic transport is the country’s largest emitting sector, responsible for 29% of emissions. This is followed by buildings and products at 20%, industry at 14%, and electricity at 11%, according to government data. However, the government does not include emissions from aviation and shipping in its targets.

In response to these findings, IPPR is calling for improvements to public transportation, including local buses, and increased support for walking and cycling. The thinktank also recommends implementing new taxes on private jets and reinstating the 2030 ban on new petrol or diesel cars, which was delayed to 2035 by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last year.

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