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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

Perhaps F. Scott Fitzgerald was on to something in The Great Gatsby. While wealthy people people are willing to pay higher prices that come with sustainable/green goods, they are also responsible for much more pollution because of their spending. A new study shows that income, racial and climate inequality are linked when it comes to spending habits.

“In 2019, fully 40% of total U.S. emissions were associated with income flows to the highest earning 10% of households [those making more than $178,000]. Among the highest earning 1% of households [those making more than $550,000] (whose income is linked to 15–17% of national emissions) investment holdings account for 38 – 43% of their emissions.

We term households with emissions >3,000 t CO2e per year as ‘super emitters’… Almost all super emitting households come from the top 0.1% income group. They had average incomes of over $10.6 million…” 

These findings really shouldn’t be that surprising. The “true cost” pricing experiment earlier this summer by German food retailer Penny showed the same thing, although the detailed analysis of the trial have not yet been published. But they may be informative to companies trying to balance financial performance, green product pricing/margins and broader ESG goals.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile