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Rich Canadians have bigger carbon footprint

Size matters. Study links national income, consumption

 

JOHN MORRISSY, Canwest News Service

Published: 8 hours ago

 

When it comes to ecological footprints, wealthy Canadians are a confirmed size 12, creating a global warming impact 66 per cent greater than the average household, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

 

The study is the first to link national income and consumption patterns with global warming, and it showed that the richest 10 per cent of Canadians create an environmental footprint that's 2.5 times the size of those created by the lowest 10 per cent on an income scale.

 

"When we look at where the environmental impact of human activity comes from, we see that size really does matter," said Hugh Mackenzie, a research associate for the Ottawa-based think-tank and co-author of the study.

 

"Higher-income Canadians create a much bigger footprint than poorer Canadians."

 

The study revealed a gradual progression of environmental impact going up the income scale, but a marked jump with the richest 10 per cent.

 

In fact, the highest 10 per cent has an environmental impact that's one third larger than the next lower 10 per cent, Mackenzie said.

 

The differences stem largely from the homes wealthy people own and the way they get around, Mackenzie said. The top 10 per cent own homes that are larger, cost more to build and to heat, and they are more likely to own more than one vehicle and travel more frequently by air, Mackenzie said.

 

The impact of food consumption, on the other hand, hardly varies from one income group to another.

 

The study measures environmental impact in terms of the amount of hectares it would take to sustain a certain level of consumption.

 

When it comes to the wealthiest Canadians, their environmental footprint requires 12.4 hectares per capita, compared with the average Canadian's 7.5-hectare footprint. Globally, the average Canadian's footprint is still several times the average of those in poorer nations.

 

What the study highlights, Mackenzie said, is the need for policy-makers to realize how activities related to global warming concentrate themselves in the upper income groups.

 

Failing to recognize that could lead to policies that penalize lower-income Canadians yet fail to achieve their objectives, he said.

 

"All Canadians share responsibility for global warming," said co-author Rick Smith. "But wealthier Canadians are leaving behind a disproportionately larger footprint - and should be expected to make a disproportionate contribution to its reduction."

 

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=57768cfb-8144-4ae2-b235-3a045d045065

 

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      Dan Maloutt, “Walmart’s 6 DC stores: Some will be urban, some won’t” (Greater Greater Washington blog, April 26, 2012) ↩
      Allison Brooks, “The world’s tiniest Walmart opens in Atlanta” (Atlanta Magazine, Aug. 14, 2013 ↩
      Todd Gill, “Now open: Walmart on Campus” (Fayetteville Flyer, Jan. 14, 2011).↩
      Ryan Holeywell, “Walmart Makes Its Urban Debut” (Governing Magazine, June 2012) ↩
      Id. ↩