Carbon emissions produced by the average person in Britain in the first fortnight of 2020 will outweigh those created by the citizens of seven African countries in an entire year, a charity has said.
Someone living in the UK will take just five days to emit the same carbon as someone in Rwanda does in 12 months, according to findings by Oxfam Scotland.
By January 12, the average person’s emissions will have overtaken the annual per capita emissions of a further six African countries: Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Madagascar, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
The charity said Scottish ministers must be “deadly serious” about tackling climate change and use this year’s UN Climate Summit in Glasgow to inspire emissions-cutting policies.
Oxfam Scotland said while the Climate Change (Scotland) Act passed by MSPs in 2019 strengthened legal emission reduction targets, the Scottish Government “must now redouble its efforts to make substantial progress” during the next decade.
It is also calling on ministers to take climate-focused action through new legislation, including the Circular Economy Bill going through Parliament, and by increasing Scotland’s support to the world’s poorest people “who are faced with increasingly severe climate impacts”.
Head of Oxfam Scotland, Jamie Livingstone, said: “The sheer scale of global inequality when it comes to carbon emissions is staggering.
“It’s a shock to realise that in just a few days our high-carbon lifestyles at home produce the same emissions as the annual footprint of people in some of the world’s poorest countries.
“We know that people are willing to do their bit towards tackling the climate crisis, but we need to see this commitment matched by action by political leaders at every level.
“Just as large numbers of people are committing to reducing their own personal carbon footprint, we need bold new year resolutions from our political leaders to get us on track to meeting our ambitious emissions targets.
“As Glasgow gets ready to host global climate talks later this year, UK and Scottish ministers need to show that they are deadly serious about leading the fight against climate change.
“In Scotland, last year’s historic climate legislation was only one step towards tackling the climate emergency. We must now show our commitment to meeting these new targets through bold emission reduction action in 2020 and by increasing our commitment towards climate justice for people in countries which have done least to cause this crisis.”
Polling carried out by YouGov for Oxfam suggests 61% of people in Britain want the Government to do more to address the climate emergency, while most are willing to act to lessen their own carbon footprint.
The poll found 55% are worried about the impact of climate change, with a majority of people saying they are likely to make at least one change to reduce their carbon footprint.
Responses ranged from 79% of people who said they are likely to recycle more, down to 38% who are likely to change their diet, such as by eating less meat or dairy products.
More than two-thirds said they are likely to use energy-efficient products or utility providers, while almost half said they are likely to limit their air travel, and the same percentage said they will buy ethically-made or second-hand products.