"Why should we sacrifice 10 per cent of our income today to make Bill Gates better off?" asked an MP. "As the world's [second] richest man, he doesn't need our sacrifice."
The second richest man in the world, Bill Gates, is a proxy in this rhetorical question. The MP, a former Cabinet minister, is raising a fascinating and rarely asked moral question. Should we make ourselves poorer to save the rich of the future some insignificant amount of money: an amount so small, it will be a rounding error? The argument he builds is that government spending on climate policies is in fact a form of regressive wealth distribution. And the question the minister poses is far from rhetorical; it's at the heart of the climate policy debate.