Published on April 10th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
Pre-Brexit, UK Leads G7 In ‘Conscious Decoupling’ Of Economic Growth & Carbon Cuts
April 10th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
A new report from the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit has confirmed that the UK has been the most successful G7 nation over the last 25 years at growing its economy as well as reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
Or, as Gwyneth Paltrow might call it, a conscious decoupling.
It was in 1992 that governments from around the world agreed upon the UN Climate Convention at the Rio Earth Summit. Since then, according to a new report published this week by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), the UK has become richer, on average, than other G7 nations, while at the same reducing the UK’s average carbon footprint further than citizens of other G7 nations. Specifically, based on data from 2014 — the most recent year for which there is comprehensive figures across the G7 — the British per-capita greenhouse gas emissions were down 33% on figures from 1992, while UK per-capita GDP had grown more than 130%.
Comparatively, Japan is the worst performing of the G7 countries, with its per-capita GDP growing by only 83% while its per-capita emissions also growing, by 10.5%.
“It’s really time to slay once and for all the old canard that cutting carbon emissions means economic harm,” said Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.
“As this report shows, if you have consistent policymaking and cross-party consensus, it’s perfectly possible to get richer and cleaner at the same time. Britain isn’t the only country that’s done it – it’s true for most of the G7 – but we’ve clearly been the best of the bunch.
“There are signs that these successes are now transferring to the rest of the world. Globally, emissions have been flat for three years while world GDP has grown by 8%. But science indicates this isn’t enough to fulfil the objective of the UN Convention and prevent ‘dangerous’ climate change – for that, emissions need to start falling soon. This study should give confidence that with good policies, it’s achievable.”
The UK definitely has a leg up over other G7 countries thanks to the 1980s/90s “dash for gas” which saw gas-fired electricity generation overtake and subsume generation from coal. However, the country has also made significant moves to curb its other emissions sources, and more recently has poured a lot of effort and money into renewable energy technologies.
It’s good news for the UK, having just recently signed the papers which will take it out of the European Union — a move which has raised the hackles and concerns of environment and climate experts throughout the region, and in fact around the world. The UK must work hard to keep up its strong legacy of strong emissions cuts and renewable energy growth if it is to not only meet its 2020 target — a target which it is currently falling behind — but continue to contribute to the region’s climate targets and responsibilities in the future.
“Before we signed the UN Climate Convention 25 years ago, Sir John Major and I were firmly of the view that reducing Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions would not harm our economy,” said Lord (Michael) Howard of Lympne, who as UK Environment Secretary negotiated the UN Convention in 1992.
“This analysis shows that we were right and the doom-mongers wrong.”
“The consequences of unconstrained climate change are now becoming ever clearer, and on a global basis, emissions are not falling quickly enough to avert the risks ahead.
“Therefore, I would wish to commend Christiana Figueres and the Mission 2020 initiative and wish them success as they aim, essentially, to finish the job that we began in Rio de Janeiro 25 years ago.”