Five ways that reducing inequality will help tackle climate change

The stark warning from the latest IPCC report on climate change confirms that it is already happening and that the only way to tackle it is to cut our CO2 emissions. Rather than succumb to despair we can draw on the evidence that a more equal world will help us respond to this massive challenge:

1. Less inequality will reduce status competition between individuals which is the main driver of consumption which, in turn, is the main driver of climate change.

2. More equal developed countries give more in overseas aid to developing countries who are experiencing the effects of climate change right now. 

3. Levels of trust are significantly higher in more equal countries and a high degree of trust between citizens will be essential if policies to tackle climate change are to be widely agreed and accepted across the world.

4. Recycling rates are higher in more equal countries as people are generally more co-operative and civic-minded.

5. Business leaders in more equal countries are more likely to want their governments to comply with international environmental treaties.

As well as helping us tackle climate change, greater equality can also set us on a course to a more sustainable economic model. The debate about whether the developed world has reached the end of what growth can do for it is well underway. Increasingly, prominent voices are speaking out on these issues. Today’s IPCC report is another milestone along the road in this debate. One thing is clear, the earlier action is taken to reduce inequality, the better our chances of success in dealing with climate change and promoting sustainable ways of living in the future. 

Bill Kerry, Secretary of the Equality Trust