Not with a Bang, but a Whimper. Unless...

For ages, the climate emergency has been tackled as a bad event to avoid, an enemy to fight. And, for that, we have given it deadlines and numbers: 1.5°C, 2°C. 2020, 2030, 2050. 

In 2024, we acknowledged a few things: no asteroid is falling above us (not yet!), but the crisis is here, and the effects are evident. Not only: rich people (we) are to be held responsible and the present economic system is our lethal weapon.


But why are the rich responsible for global warming?

The higher the salary, the higher the consumption of natural resources and, in consequence, the emission of greenhouse gases per capita. For decades, rich countries based their welfare (and they are still doing it) on the exploitation and consumption of natural resources, mostly coming from other countries, such as oil, coal, and raw materials. 

The poorer consume less, export more and, for that, they have always been more sustainable. Welfare in the EU is still based on unsustainable practices, such as the displacement of factories in countries with lower salaries, and the massive extraction of raw materials from African and Asian countries. The richest nations in Europe and North America, are big importers and consumers, therefore responsible for high per-capita CO2 emissions. Countries across Asia and Africa tend to consume less and export more, ending with low per capita emissions. 

In 2023, CO2 emission per capita in China was 8 t CO2/person, equal to Germany, and almost half of the USA (15 t CO2/p.). In the same year, an Indian citizen emitted 2 t CO2, less than one-third of a Dutch (7 t CO2/p.), and about half of a Swedish (3.6) (1).

The correlation “rich = polluter” must be reversed: sustainable transition will be achieved only when the rich will emit less CO2 than the poor. So, when more welfare will match with lower emissions.


How could we achieve a sustainable transition, and what ‘s the role of the EU?

Poorer countries are those with lower emissions per capita. What if they could be exporters of CO2? Giving a price to CO2 emissions is an effective instrument. About 53 national jurisdictions already implemented their carbon pricing mechanisms worldwide (2). Global trading of CO2 is also mentioned in the Paris Agreement (article 62). The establishment of a global carbon pricing mechanism will make poorer countries export CO2 emissions, creating a new, fair system. Europe is a rich regional power, with the largest carbon pricing system worldwide (EU ETS) (3), and it must lead this initiative. 


Making polluters pay means introducing a new tax, potentially harmful for citizens with lower salaries: how can we prevent citizens from getting damaged?

Now, citizens pay taxes based on their salaries and properties. What if we move taxation from salaries to the emissions of CO2? Giving a price to emissions (es: 85 €/t, the EU ETS average in 2023) will bring a price increase of fundamental goods and services (energy, materials, food, transportation). At the same time, the jurisdiction applying this pricing system obtains a huge amount of money income. To make the sustainable transition happen safely, a relevant part of this income should be used to reduce the tax burden on citizens with lower salaries so that the transition is sustainable, and welfare is increased.

These two proposals are the pillars of the petition published by EUMANS, soon to be translated into a European Citizens Initiative (ECI). 

An ECI is a powerful instrument. However, to be successful, 1 million signatures must be collected in 7 EU countries. Therefore, our success goes through all those EU citizens who will decide to act, and fight with us. 

Because there is no enemy to fight, just us and our awareness that it is “not with a bang, but a whimper. This is the way the world ends”.

To give your support, do not hesitate to contact EUMANS!



  1. Annual CO₂ emissions (per capita) - Annual total carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, excluding land-use change, measured in tonnes per person. Source: Global Carbon Budget (2023), Population based on various sources (2023) – with major processing by Our World in Data