Climate Inequality Report 2023: Fair Taxes for a Sustainable Future in the Global South

Lucas Chancel, Philip Bothe, Tancrède Voituriez
Posted on: 3/15/2023 - Updated on: 3/15/2023

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The climate crisis has begun to disrupt human societies by severely affecting the very foundations of human livelihood and social organisation. Climate impacts are not equally distributed across the world: on average,  low- and middle-income countries suffer greater impacts than their richer counterparts. At the same time, the climate crisis is also marked by significant inequalities within countries. Recent research reveals a high concentration of global greenhouse gas emissions among a relatively small fraction of the population, living in emerging and rich countries. In addition, vulnerability to numerous climate impacts is strongly linked to income and wealth, not just between countries but also within them.

The aim of this report is twofold. It endeavours first to shed light on these various dimensions of climate inequality in a systematic and detailed analysis, focusing on low- and middle-income countries in particular. It then builds on these insights, together with additional empirical work and interviews with experts, to suggest pathways to development cooperation,
and tax and social policies that tackle climate inequalities at their core.

Key Findings:

  • All individuals contribute to emissions, but not in the same way.
  • Better understanding how groups may win and lose from the energy transition is key to accelerating it.
  • Carbon inequalities within countries now appear to be greater than carbon inequalities between countries.
  • Ending global poverty need not overshoot global carbon budgets.
  • Climate change contributes to economic and material deprivation in myriad ways, now well documented.
  • As a direct consequence, all governments need to reconsider their mitigation targets, and especially the historical emitters.

Recommendations for Donors & Government:

  • Significant resources should be invested in the production and collection of climate inequality statistics.
  • Step-up efforts to honour climate finance pledges.
  • International transfers will not be sufficient to address climate inequalities however. Profound transformations of international and national tax regimes will be necessary.
  • Earning more, but also spending better by learning from successful experiences abroad.
  • Systematically investigate both intended and unintended consequences of climate and development policy across income and wealth groups.


Chancel, L., Bothe, P., Voituriez, T. (2023). Climate Inequality Report 2023, World Inequality Lab Study 2023/1. Available at…;

Affiliated Organizations

The World Inequality Lab is a research laboratory focusing on the study of inequality worldwide. The World Inequality Lab gathers social scientists committed to helping everyone understand the drivers of inequality worldwide through evidence-based research. The WIL hosts the World Inequality Database, the most extensive public database on global inequality dynamics.

Our main missions are:

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