Is Poverty the Biggest Roadblock to Net-Zero?
McKinsey Global Institute seems to think so.
The issue was highlighted in a recent report that outlined the percentage of the global population that lives below the empowerment line. The empowerment line is the point at which individuals can meet their essential needs. The basic premise is that net-zero isn’t on the radar for those who struggle on a day-to-day basis. Not to mention that they don’t possess the financial resources to move the needle.
It’s a logical position to take. But how does the number of people below the empowerment line break down on a worldwide basis? Here’s a sample of McKinsey’s findings:
Only 25% of those living in the U.S., 27% in Europe, and 19% in Japan are below the line.
Conversely, 78% of those living in India, 90% in Sub-Sahara Africa, and 60% in Latin America are below the line.
But what about China – a major player in climate change?
50% of the Chinese population is above the line. However, 33% reside between 50 to 99% of the empowerment line and 17% reside only at 20 to 49% of the line.
Granted, the regions with populations below the line are not major emitters. Still, as these regions grow their economies, they will be more likely to depend on fossil fuels than developed countries. That mean as the U.S. and Europe wean themselves off of fossil fuels, many regions may be increasing their demand. It’s a bit like whack-a-mole.
So the answer to the original question is: poverty is not a short-term threat to net-zero but will become one in the future.