I was struck by this article which showed that the carbon emissions of the top 10% by income of the global population are as high as those of the bottom 50%. The top 10% ‘encompasses most of the middle classes in developed countries’, the article points out, or anyone earning more than £32,000 ($40,000).
(The article doesn’t make clear, annoyingly, whether it is talking about disposable income or gross income, but £32,000 is roughly the median disposable income in the UK. The median disposable income of the UK’s poorest 20% is £14,500.)
The article makes the point that failing to allow for this fact can mean that those least responsible can end up paying a proportionately higher price for measures intended to reduce carbon emissions than those who are much more responsible, which helps to explain resistance to such measures from poorer people (the article gives the example of the ‘yellow vests’ movement in France protesting against a hike in fuel prices.) This is not the only instance, I think, of measures supported by the liberal middle classes which are resisted by poorer people on whom they more directly impact – a phenomenon that can result in a rather spurious sense of moral superiority on the part of liberal middle class folk.
The more general point I take from this is that many people who do not see themselves as rich, or as extravagant consumers – indeed many people who think they are entitled to be richer than they are, and identify themselves as being among the victims of injustice – are in fact, in global terms, rich and extravagant.