BILLIONAIRES' “excessive emissions” are placing the world in “graver peril” from climate change, campaigners have warned.

Activists made the comments as new research showed that by the end of this decade the carbon footprints of the richest 1% are set to be 30 times greater than what is compatible with keeping global warming below 1.5C.

Meanwhile, the carbon footprints of the poorest half of the world population will remain several times below that level.

Keeping global warming to 1.5C is the key goal of the COP26 summit, currently being held in Glasgow. 

The authors of the new report called for governments to bring in measures to “constrain luxury carbon consumption like mega yachts, private jets and space travel”.

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It comes after three of the world’s billionaires have entered into a commercial space race.

Sir Richard Branson made it to the edge of space in his Virgin Galactic rocket plane on July 11, shortfly followed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who made a short trip into space on his New Shepard rocket ship on July 20, while Elon Musk is currently developing a vehicle to take humans to Mars through his private spaceflight company SpaceX.

The report states that the richest 1% are on course for an even greater share of global emissions than when the Paris Agreement was signed in December 2015.

It adds that the climate and inequality crises are “closely interwoven” and that the share of total global emissions associated with the consumption of the richest 1% is set to continue to grow, from 13% in 1990, to 15% in 2015 and 16% in 2030.

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “The luxury lifestyles and continued plundering of the planet by the world’s richest people are placing us all in ever graver peril.

"The emissions from a single billionaire space flight would exceed the lifetime emissions of someone in the poorest billion people on Earth.

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“No one is immune from the impact of the climate emergency, but it’s the world’s poorest who are paying the heaviest price despite contributing least emissions as they battle floods, famines and cyclones.

“COP26 is a moment of truth in the fight against climate change: global leaders must agree ways to curb excessive emissions and limit global heating and they must do it here and now in Glasgow. Delay costs lives.”

The study, commissioned by Oxfam, based on research carried out by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), estimates how the government’s pledges will affect the carbon footprints of the world’s richest and poorests, treating the global population and income groups as a single country.

To achieve the goal agreed at the Paris summit, scientists say every person on earth would need to limit their CO2 emissions to just 2.3 tonnes by 2030.

That is roughly half the average carbon footprint today.

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Meanwhile, the Oxfam commissioned study found that the richest 1% are set to exceed this limit by 30 times.

Tim Gore, author of the study and Head of the Low Carbon and Circular Economy programme at IEEP, said: “The global emissions gap to keep the 1.5°C Paris goal alive is not the result of the consumption of most of the world’s people: it reflects instead the excessive emissions of just the richest citizens on the planet.

“To close the emissions gap by 2030, it is necessary for governments to target measures at their richest, highest emitters – the climate and inequality crises should be tackled together.”

Emily Ghosh, Scientist at Stockholm Environment Institute added: “If we continue on the same trajectory as today the stark inequalities in income and emissions across the global population will remain, challenging the equity principle at the very heart of the Paris Agreement.

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“Analysis of carbon inequality must urgently be put at the centre of government's efforts to reduce emissions.”

Professor Len Shackleton from the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market think tank, called the research “anti-rich”.

He said: Oxfam’s proposals are extremely dangerous in setting a precedent for governments to interfere in private activities on the basis of vague assertions about damage to the planet.

“While it is hardly surprising that billionaires have a larger carbon footprint than the rest of us, it is also true that even the poorest person in the UK has a much higher footprint than a poor person in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The same specious reasoning could be used to forbid ordinary people from holidaying abroad, driving a car, having baths instead of showers, or eating meat.”