UK among nations cutting emissions and growing economy

The UK is among 21 countries that have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while growing their economies. An analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI) found the UK achieved six years of “absolute […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

The UK is among 21 countries that have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while growing their economies.

An analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI) found the UK achieved six years of “absolute decoupling”  between 2000 and 2014 where GDP grew at the same time Carbon Dioxide emissions declined.

During that period, emissions dropped from 591 million metric tons to 470 million metric tons of CO2 while GDP grew from $2.1 trillion (£1.4tn) to $2.7 trillion (£1.8tn).

The report, which analysed 67 countries, also highlights the US experienced multiple consecutive years when economic growth “decoupled” from carbon emissions.

From 2010 to 2012, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined by 6% to 5.23 billion metric tons while GDP grew by 4% to $15.4 trillion (£10.6tn).

The WRI believes the implementation of Obama’s Clean  Power Plan (CPP) would help reduce carbon emissions by a further 6% between 2020 and 2025 while GDP could increase by 13% during the same period.

However, the CPP has been temporarily blocked by the US Supreme Court.

Some of the other nations that have achieved growth while cutting emissions are Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Uzbekistan.

The report insists there no consistent formula, policy or demographic trend that drove the decoupling of GDP and GHG emissions between 2000 and 2014.

It added: “Sweden, for example, implemented ambitious policies including carbon taxes that supported its decoupling. Denmark’s rapid increase in renewable energy reduced emissions while stimulating local production.

“More than 90% of the countries that decoupled GDP and GHG emissions between 2000 and 2014 reduced the industrial sector share of their economies. However, the exceptional cases of Bulgaria and Uzbekistan demonstrate that GDP-GHG decoupling is also feasible in countries with expanding industrial activity (not to mention Switzerland and the Czech Republic, where the industrial portion of GDP remained essentially steady). Across the 21-country group, the average change in the industry share of GDP was a 3% reduction over the period, with an average CO2 reduction of 15%.”