Greenhouse gas emissions and economic inequality
Climate change and anthropogenic emissions have been closely linked to economic inequality. The poorest half of the global population, which accounts for about 3.5 billion people, only accounts for ten percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. However, many of these people reside in regions that are and will continue to be impacted the most by the negative effects caused by climate change, such as drought and food scarcity. On the other hand, the richest ten percent of the world generally have a carbon footprint that is eleven times greater than the poorest 50 percent of the world. In 2014, the United States had a carbon footprint of 11.5 acres per capita, compared to the global average of 3.6 acres per capita.
Greenhouse gas emissions are considered one of the most important indicators of anthropogenic impacts on the environment. The Asia Pacific region accounted for 16.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2014, comparatively, Africa accounted for just 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions. In China, CO2 emissions have steadily risen over the last decade, accompanying their economic growth. In 2001, emissions in China grew from about 3.5 billion metric tons to just over nine billion metric tons. As of 2015, China was the largest producer of CO2, accounting for over a quarter of the world’s emissions.