A report last year from Credit Suisse showed that you need just £2,400 to be in the wealthiest half of the world’s citizens. £50,000 puts you in the top 10 per cent of the global ‘rich list’, and £520,000 gets you in the top 1 per cent.
So most of us reading this are rich, in global terms. Hurray! However, if you are in the top 10 per cent but still don’t feel wealthy, you are probably wasting money. You may be on the treadmill called ‘working to pay the bills’.
Wasting money has other consequences, too. Being well off is a good thing, but it means that we also generate more climate-changing pollution. Human activity across the planet produces 40 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases each year – mostly from burning coal, oil and gas. That’s an average of 5.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas for every man, woman and child now alive. As a member of the global rich list, you will produce a lot more than that.
Yet even as the effects of climate change become more severe, there still hasn’t been a proper answer to the question – “what do you want me to do?”
Most of the advice we get seems out of keeping with the size of the problem: “turn off your lights, unplug your mobile phone charger, don’t spend too long in the shower”.
Putting it bluntly, these things are pretty pointless on their own. We won’t solve this just by spending less time in the shower. But if everyone were producing two tonnes of greenhouse gas, we’d buy time to quit fossil fuels and avoid the worst effects of increasingly severe weather patterns.
“That’s impossible!” you say. I’d say it’s challenging, but achievable. My emissions are about two tonnes a year. This has saved me £80,000 over the last eight years – and I owe my current, happy life to living a two-tonne lifestyle. I’ve spent more time with my young family than at work. I eat meat, drive a family car, and have foreign holidays. I still hope to make the 1 per cent global rich elite.
I believe that if I can do it, anyone can. You are probably wasting money on the very fossil fuels that are causing the problem. Saving that money can free you up in lots of ways. It will also be the most effective thing you can do in the urgent fight against climate change.