A carbon tax on investment income could be more fair and make it less profitable to pollute – a new analysis shows why
About 10 years ago, a very thick book written by a French economist became a surprising bestseller. It was called “Capital in the 21st Century.” In it, Thomas Piketty traces the history of income and wealth inequality over the past couple of hundred years.
The book’s insights struck a chord with people who felt a growing sense of economic inequality but didn’t have the data to back it up. I was one of them. It made me wonder, how much carbon pollution is being generated to create wealth for a small group of extremely rich households? Two kids, 10 years and a Ph.D. later, I finally have some answers.
In a new study, colleagues and I investigated U.S. households’ personal responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2019. We previously studied emissions tied to consumption – the stuff people buy. This time, we looked at emissions used in generating people’s incomes, including investment income.
This is the core paper of the Eora global supply chain database.
This paper was widely covered in the press, including by National Geographic, Scientific American, TIME, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, AFP (in several languages), Le Monde, National Geographic Nederland/België AFP (Yahoo News The Japan Times etc.) AFP in Japanese AFP in Spanish (SWI etc.) AFP in French (Le Point Europe1 etc.) Fusion Discover Magazine Daily Mail Co.Design Mongabay Mongabay Latam Save Our Seas IBTimes IBTimes UK UPI R&D Magazine The Verge Newsweek en Español EL PAÍS Ouest-France Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Europa Press EL MUNDO Pesquisa Fapesp vozpopuli bez EL DIARIO MONTAÑES SINC Quo Postimees EcoDiario.es Notícias ao Minuto Contagio Radio EFE I4U News MOTHERBOARD Earth.com Deutschlandfunk Natursidan Index.hu Inverse Star2 iTech Post Benzinga O Globo CitizenPost Zanichelli Sciences et Avenir Singularity Hub ScienceDaily EurekAlert Phys.Org Nihon Keizai Shimbun Asahi Shimbun Kyodo News (The Japan Times Nihon Keizai Shimbun Mainichi Shimbun Reuters Tokyo Shimbun etc.) Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Shinano Mainichi Shimbun as well as in Nature Ecology & Evolution Editorial and Video and in Nature Research Highlights
This paper published in Nature was widely covered in the press, including by Scientific
Monde, AFP, and many national magazines and newspapers. Edgar Hertwich wrote a nice commentary about the paper.
Additional press coverage: AFP, COSMOS magazine, The Week UK, El Pais, Straits Times Singapore, AsiaOne, Oesterreichischer Rundfunk, Ansa (Italy), El Silenciero (Mexico), SINC (Spain), El Comercio (Peru), Science for Environment Policy News, 9News, Sydney Morning Herald, The Conversation, Radio Australia, The Age, ABC Rural, Herald Sun, Brisbane Times, ABC Science, Canberra Times, Linden Gallery, Kyodo News (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, Kyoto Shimbun, Chugoku Shimbun, Kahoku Shimpo, J-Wave Tokyo Morning Radio, Faculty of 1000, Nature Podcasts, Nature Blogs, Nature Commentary
This study found that 29–39% of emissions from deforestation (0.65Gt CO2) are driven by international trade, mainly in beef and oilseeds. One sixth of the carbon footprint of EU diets is due to deforestation emissions.
Read the editorial from Nature
We argued that research on sustainable diets needs to give more attention to non-mainstream foods. The top commodity crops are well-measured and well reported on, but smallholder crops and artisenal fisheries are often neglected in big-picture studies about sustinable diets.
We estimate that the top 0.1% in the US have emissions nearly sixty times higher than bottom decile. The paper went viral on twitter with 700,000 views.
In this study we estimated the Scope 3 carbon footprint of 13,000 cities globally, drawing on both existing
models and expanding coverage to new countries. The study was reported on in Scientific
News and World Report, among others.
Project website: citycarbonfootprints.info
Additional press coverage in: DailyMail Newsweek (22 June International Edition, page 40) Yahoo! World Economic Forum MIC (AOL) National Geographic Russia MIT Technology Review MIT Technology Review Japan TechTimes Climate News Network ABC Nyheter Deutsche Welle Ciência e Clima Smart Cities Dive Presscute Newshub Daily Sabah earth.com IFLScience De Ingenieur scinexx TimesLIVE Environment News Service Korea Herald (Graphic News) Yonhap News Agency Korean Daily Africa Times EurekAlert Phys.Org ScienceNordic R&D Magazine Nikkei Shimbun Kyodo News (Nihon Keizai Shimbun Tokyo Shimbun Chunichi Shimbun Nishinippon Shimbun Shinano Mainichi Shimbun etc.) Korea JoongAng Daily (Yahoo! Japan) NewSphere NNA Asia Record China (goo news).
This paper was highlighted as an Editor’s Choice in Science
This paper was highlighted in a special report by The Economist about what individuals and companies can do to reduce their Scope 3 emissions.
Featured as a Research Highlight in Nature Climate Change
Carbon footprint and
Input-Output Analysis - An Introduction - by Tommy Wiedmann
The Role of Input-Output Analysis for Screening Corporate Carbon Footprints Y. Anny Huang et al.
Introduction to Environmentally Extended IO Analysis - By Anke Schaffartzik and colleagues at the Institute for Social Ecology in Vienna
An Introduction to Environmentally-Extended Input-Output Analysis - by Justin Kitzes
Calculating Value Added in Trade - A User Guide - by Aqib Aslam and colleagues at the IMF
Eurostat Input-Output Manual - Along with the UN SNA, the canonical reference manual.
Input-Output Analysis: Foundations and Extensions - The textbook by Miller and Blair
Manfred Lenzen's MRIO lecture series on YouTube - Highly recommended