Archive for the tag “Global Inequality”

Global capitalism is facing three tipping points

In this article, Sagar Dhara examines Capitalism’s crucial tipping points: The first, the impending energy and natural resource crisis, related to the sourcing of raw materials. The second, inequality, related to the production of goods and services. The third, global warming, which is related to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in excess of the earth’s sink capacity.

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The worlds wealthiest few can fund an energy revolution

The personal fortunes of just 782 of the worlds wealthiest people could power half the world—Africa, Latin America, and most of Asia—with 100 percent renewable energy within 15 years, according to a new Friends of the Earth report. Broken down by continent, it would take the wealth of just 53 rich people to power Africa.

VIEW/DOWNLOAD: An Energy Revolution Is Possible (PDF)

Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams

The personal fortunes of just 782 of the worlds wealthiest people could power half the world—Africa, Latin America, and most of Asia—with 100 percent renewable energy within 15 years, according to a new report to be published Monday.
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Credit Suisse: Richest 1% own 53% of India’s wealth

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2015. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%

Manas Chakravarty, Live Mint Graphic by Prajakta Patil/Mint

The richest 1% of Indians own 53% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Credit Suisse. The richest 5% own 68.6% of the country’s wealth, while the top 10% have 76.3%. At the other end of the pyramid, the poorer half of our countrymen jostles for 4.1% of the nation’s wealth. As Deng Xiaoping put it so pithily, “It is glorious to be rich.”

What’s more, things are getting more and more glorious for the rich. Data from Credit Suisse show that India’s richest 1% owned just 36.8% of the country’s wealth in 2000, while the share of the top 10% was 65.9%. Since then the richest have managed to steadily increase their share of the pie, as the chart shows. This happened during the years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government from 2000-04, during the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government backed by the Left, during the second UPA tenure and now in the first year of the Modi government; the share of the top 1% has now crossed 50%. The colour of the government has been no impediment to the steady rise in the riches of the wealthy.

The chart shows that the difference between the share of the top 1% and that of the top 10% was 29.1 percentage points in 2000, but is down to 23.3 percentage points in 2015. In other words, the top 1% is eating into the share of the next 9%. The richest are growing at the expense of the relatively well-off. Between 2010 and 2015, the share of the poorer half of the population shrank from 5.3% to 4.1%.

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2015. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%, while the top 10% bagged 81%. The other 90% got the leftovers.

The share of India’s richest 1% is far ahead than that of top 1% of the US, who own a mere 37.3% of the total US wealth. But India’s finest still have a long way to go before they match Russia, where the top 1% own a stupendous 70.3% of the country’s wealth.

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Download Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2015 

News update

Heatwave to worsen over the years: Study
Times of India
Hyderabad suffers a maximum of five heatwave days in a year. According to experts, this number will go up to as many as 40 days per year in the future. This prediction has been made in a paper titled Climate change scenarios for Hyderabad: Integrating uncertainties and consolidation by Matthias K B Ludeke, Martin Budde, Oleksandr Kit, Diana Reckien of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. (Also read: 61% Rise In Heat-Stroke Deaths Over Decade)

Most glaciers in Mount Everest area will disappear with climate change – study
The Guardian UK
Most of the glaciers in the Mount Everest region will disappear or drastically retreat as temperatures increase with climate change over the next century, according to a group of international researchers. The estimated 5,500 glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region – site of Mount Everest and many of the world’s tallest peaks – could reduce their volume by 70%-99% by 2100, with dire consequences for farming and hydropower generation downstream, they said.

As Seas Exchange Heat, the Indian Ocean is Becoming a Marine Hothouse
Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire
Since about 1998, the rate at which the Earth’s surface temperature has been becoming hotter due to anthropogenic global warming has slowed. In this period, the subsurface Pacific Ocean was found to have absorbed a significant amount of heat. As it turns out, the Pacific has been leaking it into the Indian Ocean for the last decade, via currents running along the Indonesian archipelago. A team of researchers from France and the US found that the upper 700 m of the Indian Ocean accounted for more than 70% of the global heat gain in 2003-2012.

The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit
David Roberts, Vox.com
There has always been an odd tenor to discussions among climate scientists, policy wonks, and politicians, a passive-aggressive quality, and I think it can be traced to the fact that everyone involved has to dance around the obvious truth, at risk of losing their status and influence. The obvious truth about global warming is this: barring miracles, humanity is in for some awful shit.

Modi’s push for domestic oil production could aggravate border conflicts
Kabir Taneja, Scroll.in
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at an event in Delhi, set an extremely difficult challenge for the country’s oil and gas companies and the people who devise policies for them. The challenge was to cut down India’s oil imports by 10% from the current figure of 77% before the years 2022, and to bridge this gap with an increase in domestic production. The prime minister’s advertised goal left industry experts confounded particularly since the ground realities of crude oil in India don’t augur well.

Why India is captured by carbon
David Rose, The Guardian UK
India’s leaders are determined to restore economic growth and lift the country’s 1.3 billion citizens out of poverty. But rapid development will require India to double or triple its production of coal – and make it the world’s second largest carbon emitter. Is there any alternative?

Million Renewable-Energy Jobs Predicted for India 2022
Chaitanya Mallapur, IndiaSpend.com
As India–the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases but 127th in terms of per capita emissions–ponders an energy-future balancing growth, jobs and environment, there is encouraging news from a new report. The renewable energy sector, has generated 400,000 jobs till 2014, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The sector could generate a million jobs by 2022, if the government reaches its goal of 100 giga watts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy and 60 GW of wind energy.

Foregoing $1 Billion Payout, Tribe Rejects LNG Project
Common Dreams
Placing the well-being of the Earth above monetary interests, the Lax Kw’alaams First Nations tribe in Canadas British Columbia has rejected a $1 billion offer and voted against a proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal. Our elders remind us that money is like so much dust that is quickly blown away in the wind, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told the Globe and Mail, but the land is forever.

Global social inequality hits new record
World Socialist Web Site
Income inequality in many developed countries has reached an all-time high, according to a report released Thursday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report also notes that growth of social inequality has been accompanied by the growth of part-time and contingent labor, particularly for younger workers.

Challenging Thomas Piketty: Growth is not the answer to inequality

 Tim Jackson, The Guardian, UK

Those like me who fear that the continued pursuit of economic growth on a finite planet might be neither possible nor desirable face a different kind of challenge, brought home to us by Thomas Piketty’s 700 page tome Capital in the 21st Century. The astonishing popularity of the “rock-star economist” is itself a resounding testament to our concern for inequality.

But his painstaking analysis reveals an uncomfortable story. Piketty places the responsibility for rising inequality firmly and squarely on declining growth rates. Like Benjamin Friedman in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, he implies that only growth can bring civility, in part because an expanding economy allows for a degree of ‘catching up’ by the poorest in society, without much sacrifice or compromise by the rich.

For those of us less than convinced by the mantra of growth at all costs, the idea that only growth can save us from disastrous inequality poses some pretty serious challenges to our endeavour. Serious enough, that two of us – my Canadian colleague professor Peter Victor and I – decided to spend a bit more time analysing Piketty’s arguments.

What we found was fascinating. Piketty’s hypothesis only holds when the growth rate, savings rate and return on capital remain unchanged over long periods of time. When they move about, as they usually do, the economy is always chasing equilibrium but never quite arrives. In some circumstances, Piketty is absolutely right: declining growth can lead to rising inequality. In others, the exact reverse can happen: de-growth can in fact be compatible with greater equality.

This was definitely good news of a kind. Even more striking were the circumstances that made the difference. It turns out that if we are serious about reducing inequality, we must pay attention to the quality – as well as the quantity – of work in our economy. The endless mining of working life in pursuit of productivity gains for the owners of capital is not just detrimental to prosperity, it is inimicable to social justice.

If the debate about inequality is really back on the political agenda, it seems important that we approach it sensibly, without resorting to comforting half-truths. It remains to be seen how that will play out in a political debate mired in trivialities. Read the original article

Read Tim Jacksons paper: Does slow growth increase inequality?
Read another article by Tim Jackson: The dilemma of growth: prosperity v economic expansion

Free Online Course in Environmental Justice (starting 30th March)

About the course

The world faces challenging environmental problems. They are challenging because different people typically contribute differently to environmental change, and because its effects will be felt differently by different people in different places.

Understand environmental injustices

This free online course will help you understand how injustice is a common feature of many environmental problems. Over 10 weeks, we’ll look at deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change and other environmental issues, asking questions such as:

● Can we manage tropical forests to increase timber revenues and carbon stocks, while ensuring that the people who live in them can fulfil their own subsistence needs and vision of a healthy ecosystem?

● How can protected areas strike the right balance between contemporary global interests in species conservation, local interests, the needs of future generations and rights of nature?

We’ll show that sustainable environmental management requires attention to justice – that we need to strike the right balance between the needs, interests, rights and aspirations of various stakeholders today, and those of both nature and future generations.

Visit the Future Learn website for more information and to watch the trailer

Oxfam Report: Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016

From Oxfam International 

The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked, Oxfam International has warned.

Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More, a research paper published today by Oxfam, shows that the richest 1 percent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014 and at this rate will be more than 50 percent in 2016. Members of this global elite had an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult in 2014.

Of the remaining 52 percent of global wealth, almost all (46 percent) is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population. The other 80 percent share just 5.5 percent and had an average wealth of $3,851 per adult – that’s 1/700th of the average wealth of the 1 percent.

Staggering inequality

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “Do we really want to live in a world where the one percent own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.

“In the past 12 months we have seen world leaders from President Obama to Christine Lagarde talk more about tackling extreme inequality but we are still waiting for many of them to walk the walk. It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.

“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost free option – failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.5 billion people). That figure is now 80 – a dramatic fall from 388 people in 2010. The wealth of the richest 80 doubled in cash terms between 2009-14.

The international agency is calling on government to adopt a seven point plan to tackle inequality:

  1. Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals
  2. Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education
  3. Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards    capital and wealth
  4. Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers
  5. Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal
  6. Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee
  7. Agree a global goal to tackle inequality.

The research paper, which follows the October launch of Oxfam’s global Even It Up campaign, shines a light on the way extreme wealth is passed down the generations and how elite groups mobilise their vast resources to ensure global rules are favourable towards their interests. More than a third of the 1645 billionaires listed by Forbes inherited some or all of their riches.

Twenty percent of billionaires have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11 percent in the 12 months to March 2014. These sectors spent $550 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels during 2013. During the 2012 US election cycle alone, the financial sector provided $571 million in campaign contributions.

Billionaires listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors saw their collective net worth increase by 47 percent. During 2013, they spent more than $500 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels.

Oxfam is concerned that the lobbying power of these sectors is a major barrier in the way of reforming the global tax system and of ensuring intellectual property rules do not lead to the world’s poorest being denied life saving medicines.

There is increasing evidence from the International Monetary Fund, among others, that extreme inequality is not just bad news for those at the bottom but also damages economic growth.

Download Oxfams new report: Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More

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