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Rich households have biggest carbon footprint: report

A new study says the richest 20 per cent of Canadian households spew almost twice — 1.8 times — the greenhouse gas emissions of the country’s lowest income-earners.

The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives finds household carbon footprints increase with income and concludes that reduction policies must reflect that inequality.

The report’s author, economist Marc Lee, says the rich can reduce emissions — taking steps like cutting air travel and investing in home energy efficiency — more easily than low-income families, without affecting basic needs.

The report says the top one per cent of households had emissions three times the average and almost six times those of households in the bottom 10 per cent.

The study also finds the top one per cent of income-earners were responsible for almost double the greenhouse-gas emissions of the next four per cent of households.

Lee says climate policies have to be fair to be effective, and he contends high-income Canadians should bear the greater burden of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.