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How wide is the wealth gap?



The Global Wealth Report 2013 from Credit Suisse revealed that wealth had hit an all-time high of $241 trillion by the middle of 2013, despite challenging conditions. However, the report suggests that the wealth gap is continuing to increase at an accelerated pace.

Global wealth increased by 4.9% in between mid-2012 and mid-2013, and has jumped by 68% in the last decade. Whilst some wealth inequality is expected, the extent and breadth of the gap is often underestimated in the public’s perception.

Is Britain as fair as it seems?

According to The Global Wealth Report, the wealth distribution in the UK is very typical for a developed country. Slightly more than half of the population has wealth exceeding $100,000 and there are 1.5 million millionaires in the country, although average wealth per adult still remains well below the level achieved pre-financial crisis.

According to the below video from Inequality Briefing, though, this wealth is unfairly distributed.

The richest 20% in the UK have 60% of the wealth, 100 times more than those in the bottom 20% have. Inequality is even more evident when the top 1% is examined. This section of society has as much wealth as 60% of the population combined.

Inequality Breifing says that this gap is a result of more than 30 years of inequality.

The actual wealth distribution is in contrast to how the UK public thinks wealth should be distributed. A poll found that the public felt the top 20% should have 25% of the wealth, whilst the bottom 20% should have around 15%.

The public is also aware this isn’t the case and understand that wealth is distributed unequally but not to what extent. When the public was asked how they thought the wealth was distributed they believed the richest fifth hold 40% of the wealth, whilst the poorest have 9%.

How does the UK compare to the US?

Another video, this time by a filmmaker called Politizane, shows that the gap between the perception and reality of the wealth distribution in the US is broadly similar to that of the UK.

Compared to the rest of the world, the US has a high proportion of population with wealth above $100,000, and this percentage becomes more disproportionate at higher wealth levels. The USA has by far the greatest number of members of the top 1% wealth group globally, and accounts for 42% of the world’s millionaires.

In a survey, the US public felt that wealth should be more equitably distributed than what they thought in was. However, the reality shows that the bottom 40% have barley any of the wealth, whilst the top 1% has more of the country’s wealth than nine out of 10 of those questioned felt the top 20% should have.

The actual wealth distribution shows that the richest 1% actually holds 40% of all the nations wealth. In stark contrast, the bottom 80% holds just 7%, highlighting the vast wealth inequality in the US.

The situation in the country has been worsening. In 2012 the top 1% took home 24% of the country’s incomes, this compares to the 9% they took in 1976.

How does this compare to global wealth distribution?

Globally the wealth gap is larger. A third video, by The Rules, visualises the information in the Credit Suisse report, showing that the richest 20% holds 94% of the world’s wealth, while the top 2% have more wealth than the rest of the world combined.

The vast gap between the haves and the have nots is demonstrated by the fact that the 300 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest three billion.

The wealth gap can also be identified geographically, with the gap widening between the richer countries, which includes North America, Western Europe and Australia, and poorer countries.

The gap has rapidly been expanding. Two hundred years ago, rich countries were only three times richer when compared to countries with lower wealth. By the 1960s, this ratio had risen to 36 times, and today it is at around 80 times wealthier.

The video argues that whilst rich countries try to compensate for this by giving around $130 billion in aid each year, other factors mean poorer countries are continuing to lose out. These include large corporations taking around $900 billion out of poor countries through a form of tax avoidance each year, debt service on previous loans and unfair trade rules.

These things mean that more than $2 trillion flows from some of the poorest countries in the world to the richest, resulting in the financial aid ultimately having very little or no impact.

Global wealth is projected to rise by over 40% in the next five years, reaching $334 trillion in 2018. Whilst this increase is expected to be driven by the middle class and emerging markets it is likely that much of this wealth will be in the pockets of the already rich.

Wealth mobility tends to be low in regions that have an unequal distribution of wealth. According to the Credit Suisse report, China has the highest mobility, followed by India. North America has the lowest mobility, with Europe only slightly better.

From a global perspective, wealth mobility is similar to that seen in North America and Europe. This suggests that as we progress, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to move up in terms of wealth and for society to close the gap. 

Further reading:

Global wealth at ‘all-time high’ of $241tn, but inequality still rife

We can no longer sit comfortably with the myths behind poverty

‘We need to tackle the root causes of inequality and poverty’

Mobilising money to close the equality gap

Sustainable development must include tackling inequality, says UN


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
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New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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