Billionaires 'should pay for climate action'

Elon Musk. NASA HQ PHOTO

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Billionaires should focus their money on climate change rather than space travel, says public.

The public feel...some members of the billionaire class are out of touch with the problems facing the planet.

Wealthy individuals must pay higher taxes to cover the costs of mitigating and adapting to climate breakdown, according to 70 percent of the public as revealed in a survey of 2,000 adults.

The same study also reveals that an even higher proportion of the public - 75 percent - want the mega-rich to focus their financial resources on the problems facing Earth, like climate change, before space travel.

This is a stinging rebuke to the activities of space billionaires Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos over the last 12 months. The results also come as public concern about climate change reaches an all-time high following the recent COP26 summit.

Planes

Jordan Greenaway, a partner at Transmission Private, said: “The research suggests that a large proportion of the public feel, rightly or wrongly, that some members of the billionaire class are out of touch with the problems facing the planet.

“This is a sentiment that could pave the way to more calls from the public for targeted climate taxes on the lifestyles of the wealthy individuals in the coming year.”

The study also points out that the proportion of the public who support higher taxes on wealthy people to pay for the costs of climate change outstrips the percentage who back higher taxes on the rich in general.

Mr Greenaway added: “This result is not just a sign that the public want the rich to pay more tax. They feel particularly strongly about wealthy individuals paying for the costs of climate change.

“This might signal that the public feel that the causes of climate change fall disproportionately at the feet of wealthy individuals, whether it's because of their use of private planes or otherwise."

Reputations

Nearly 80 percent people over the age of 65 said that they thought ultra-high-net-worth individuals should focus their resources on Earth over space, the same figure was 66 percent for people aged between 18 and 24 years old.

Mr Greenaway added: “We are increasingly advising our clients to get on the front foot when it comes to communicating the steps they are taking to combat climate change.

“Many high net wealth individuals (HNWIs) are taking solid steps to promote the Net Zero agenda, whether it’s making their businesses more sustainable, investing in environmentally-impactful start-ups, or shifting their investment portfolios to ESG funds.

“But there is still some resistance to talking about this activity for fear of being criticised. While this anxiety is understandable, if many HNWIs continue to try to sit on the sidelines of this debate, they will soon find themselves facing a wave of very public discontent.”

The survey was commissioned by Transmission Private, a leading communication agency known for advising many of the world’s wealthiest people on their reputations. It was undertaken by polling agency OnePoll.

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Transmission Private. 

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