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Tim Gore, Mira Alestig and Anna Ratcliff


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Economics, Civics

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus




Confronting Carbon Inequality

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  • This article explains that the richest people in the world are responsible for a disproportionately large percentage of the world's carbon emissions.
  • The report issues a strong recommendation for governments to use the historic economic pause from COVID-19 to build fairer economies that focus on curbing carbon emissions for the wealthy and raising economically disadvantaged people out of poverty.
Teaching Tips


  • This article provides the opportunity to look at the climate crisis through a socioeconomic lens.
  • The research provides excellent graphics to visualize the inequities of carbon consumption based on income.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with how fossil fuel use and economic activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change.
  • Teachers may want to explain the concept of the "global carbon budget" so students understand how the report refers to a finite amount of carbon emissions allocated for global use to meet goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The right margin on page 2 will help with this explanation.


  • Consider having students propose ideas for getting the richest individuals to reduce their carbon emissions.  Explain the concept of incentives and have students brainstorm what would motivate the top earners to reduce their carbon emissions.
  • Have students consider what it means to live in poverty. The report indicates that those in poverty live on less than $5.50 per day. Discuss what consumption looks like in their community compared to someone living in poverty and how carbon emissions correlate to different lifestyles.
Scientist Notes
There is no misconception in the article. This resource is recommended for students.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 6.ESS3.5 Ask clarifying questions based on evidence about the factors that have caused climate change over the past century.
      • 8.ESS3.4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
  • Social Sciences
    • Economics (K-8)
      • 7.8 Examine how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
    • Economics: Global Economy (9-12)
      • HS.24 Explain how current globalization trends and policies affect economic growth, labor markets, labor conditions, human rights, the environment, and resource and income distribution in different nations.
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