Saturday, April 16, 2016

Can We Reduce CO2 Emissions and Grow the Global Economy? - by Fred Pearce

A wind turbine being installed in Germany. (Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Surprising new statistics show that the world economy is expanding while global carbon emissions remain at the same level.  Is it possible that the elusive “decoupling” of emissions and economic growth could be happening?

The statistic is startling.  In the past two years, the global economy has grown by 6.5 percent, but carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation and transport have not grown at all, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported last month.  CO2 emissions in Europe, the United Sates, and — most stunningly — China have been falling. What is going on?

These numbers raise a key question of huge importance if nations are to avoid the worst effects of climate change:  Is the world on a path toward “decoupling” economic activity from carbon dioxide emissions?  

Put another way:  Is the idea of a future of “green growth,” with prosperity rising and emissions falling, real?  Or as some fear, is it a dangerous myth? 

When the United Nations holds an official signing ceremony for the Paris climate agreement on April 22, the hope is this high-profile event will ensure political momentum for meeting the Paris pledge to halt global warming at “well below" two degrees Celsius.  But even climate scientists elated by the Paris agreement agree that, even with political will, the task will be extremely tough. Many are unsure whether to be optimists, keen to show the job can be done, or pessimists, determined to ensure nobody thinks it will be easy. 

Read more at Can We Reduce CO2 Emissions and Grow the Global Economy?

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