The wealthiest households in the US could be as many as three times more carbon intensive than the poorest.
That’s the suggestion made in new research from the Grantham Institute’s Lutz Sager, who studied the yearly expenditure of households between 1996 to 2009.
He then worked out how much carbon dioxide was emitted per dollar from each of the products and services bought.
The results reveal the richest 10% of US households had an average annual carbon footprint of 59.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2009.
The 10% lowest income households had an average carbon footprint of 18.1 tonnes.
Despite having a smaller carbon footprint, the research shows lower-income households generally spend a greater proportion of their income on carbon-intensive products and services, such as fossil fuel energy sources.
It suggests the development of clean technologies such as cleaner electricity generation and electric cars means households are now able to become richer while also reducing their carbon footprint.
Between 1996 and 2009, average household carbon dioxide emissions in the US across all incomes fell from 37.8 to 33.9 tonnes.
Mr Sager claims if technology had not improved, an average income household would have instead seen this figure rise to 57.9 tonnes.