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A more equal distribution of limited resources and ecological space

Restructuring our socio-economic systems is necessary to tackle both climate change and structural and procedural inequality. To avoid significant climate change, we need to move away from economic systems shaped by the dominant economic class and based on an extractive and exploitative use of natural resources. These same systems also exploit, exclude or oppress people on a global scale and across different groups.

Anisha Nazareth, Emily Ghosh / Published on 18 May 2022
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Nazareth, A. and Ghosh, E. (2022). A more equal distribution of limited resources and ecological space. Stockholm+50 background paper series. Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm.

In this paper, Nazareth and Ghosh review the inequitable use of resources and ecological space and analyse how structural inequality and climate change are mutually reinforcing. When looking to set limits to resource use and ecological space they find that we must ask questions about who sets those limits and the ways in which different voices are excluded or ignored in these conversations. Failing to do so will result in solutions that reinforce the power imbalance between groups, ultimately making it harder to tackle climate change. Nazareth and Ghosh conclude by raising questions about the need to restructure our global environmental governance systems to make them more inclusive spaces. 

The majority of the global carbon budget, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018, has been fuelling the lifestyle of a tiny wealthy minority of the worlds population. As per the 2020 report from OXFAM and the Stockholm Environment Institute, The Carbon Inequality Era (Kartha et al., 2020), between 1990 and 2015, the richest 10% of the global population accounted for 52% of the cumulative carbon emissions, depleting the global carbon budget for the 1.5°C target by nearly a third. If emissions continue at the same rate, the world is at risk of exceeding the global carbon budget by 2030, largely due to the actions of the richest individuals, and leaving little room for the poorest to increase emissions and improve their standards of living.

This paper is part of a series that supports the Stockholm+50: Unlocking a better future report.


Download the background paper / PDF / 2 MB

SEI authors

Anisha Nazareth
Anisha Nazareth

Associate Scientist


2018 portrait of Emily Ghosh
Emily Ghosh



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