Monday, July 20, 2015

Decoupling Economic Growth from GHG Emissions

Several new reports have shown how we can have economic growth and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. According to a report commissioned by France-based Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), there is evidence that economic growth is decoupling with GHG pollution. In 2014 the global economy grew by 3 percent however, carbon emissions remained unchanged. This remarkable turning point is due to a number of factors including the rapid increase in renewable energy in places like China and OECD countries.

As reported by Fred Pearce at New Scientist, the International Energy Agency predicts that the combination of renewables and energy efficiency can enable us to grow the global economy by 88 percent with negligable increases in emissions.

More support for decoupling comes from the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate. According to their report titled, "Seizing the Global Opportunity: Partnerships for Better Growth and a Better Climate." In this research the New Climate Economy Project team identified economic growth opportunities that would reduce emissions. As stated in the report, they have identified ten factors could, "close up to 96 percent of the gap between business-as-usual emissions and the level needed to limit dangerous climate change."

These recommendations would stave off climate change by closing the emissions gap. They would also stimulate sustainable socioeconomic development and growth. Here are five examples

1. Scaling up partnerships between cities, like the Compact of Mayors, to drive low-carbon urban development. Investment in public transport, building efficiency, and better waste management, could save around US$17 trillion globally by 2050.

2. Enhancing partnerships such as REDD+, the 20×20 Initiative in Latin America, and the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance to bring together forest countries, developed economies and the private sector to halt deforestation by 2030 and restore degraded farmland. This would enhance agricultural productivity and resilience, strengthen food security, and improve livelihoods for agrarian and forest communities.

3. Governments, development banks and the private sector should collaborate to reduce the cost of capital for clean energy, with the goal of investing US$1 trillion in developed and developing countries by 2030.

4. The G20 should raise energy efficiency standards in the world’s leading economies for goods such as appliances, lighting, and vehicles. Investment in energy efficiency could boost cumulative economic output globally by US$18 trillion by 2035.

5. Action to reduce emissions from aviation and shipping under international treaties and from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol could reduce emissions by as much as 2.6 Gt in 2030. In shipping alone, higher efficiency standards are expected to save an average of US$200 billion in annual fuel costs by 2030.

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