Independent MP says 'rich must be abolished' to help solve climate crisis

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
An attendee holds up a placard at a climate protest rally in Sydney on December 11, 2019. - Up to 20,000 protesters rallied in Sydney on December 11 demanding urgent climate action from Australia's government, as bushfire smoke choking the city caused health problems to spike. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP) (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)
An protester holds up a placard at a climate protest in Sydney, Australia. (Getty)

A formerly Labour MP has said the abolition of the wealthiest people in the world is necessary to help save the planet.

Claudia Webbe, who has been suspended as an MP for Labour over harassment allegations, argued that the climate crisis can only be solved by getting rid of rich people.

Webbe, the MP for Leicester East, was commenting on a United Nations report that concluded that wealthy people were at the heart of the climate problem.

She tweeted: "Earth is overpopulated; there are too many rich people. To solve the climate crisis; the rich must be abolished.”

Backing up her argument, Webbe cited figures from the report that suggested the richest people on the planet were responsible for 52% of carbon emissions, while the poorest 50% were responsible for 7% of emissions.

The authors of the report, which comes from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change, urge the government to scrap air passenger duty on UK return flights, while deterring wealthy people from buying SUV vehicles and flying frequently.

Watch: How Britons are unwilling to change habits that would tackle climate change

While not arguing for rich people to be abolished, Professor Peter Newell – the lead author of the report – said the wealthiest should be doing more to help in the fight against climate change.

He told BBC News: “Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air.

“But these schemes are highly contentious and they’re not proven over time.”

He added: “These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most and live in the biggest homes, which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they’re well insulated or not.

“They’re also the sort of people who could really afford good insulation and solar panels if they wanted to.”

But Sam Hall, from the Conservative Environment Network, said “encouraging clean technologies is likely to be more effective” than penalties or lifestyle restrictions.

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe leaving Westminster Magistrates Court, London, after appearing charged with one count of harassment of a female between September 1, 2018 and April 26, 2020. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe leaving Westminster Magistrates Court, London, after appearing charged with one count of harassment of a female. (Getty)

Yahoo News UK has contacted Greenpeace for a reaction to Webbe’s comments.

The Climate Change Committee would not comment specifically on the MP's remarks when asked.

Webbe, who as an MP earns £81,932 a year, is alleged to have pursued a course of conduct that amounted to the harassment of a woman, named Michelle Merritt, between 1 September, 2018 and 26 April, 2020.

Commercial airplane flying overhead and copy space
A UN report called for higher prices for frequent fliers. (Getty)

She is accused of threatening and making numerous unwarranted telephone calls to Merritt and is due to stand trial in September.

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (Cop26) is due to take place in Glasgow in November.

The conference has been described as the most significant international meeting on climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Watch: World must put itself on war footing over climate crisis – Prince Charles