Lancet study challenges ‘green growth’ in high-income countries

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Despite the claims of high-income countries to achieve green growth and reduce carbon emissions, there is something new Lancet The study challenges these assertions, noting that emissions reductions in 11 rich countries fall short of the climate goals and equity requirements of the Paris Agreement. According to a paper published in The Lancet Planetary Health If current trends continue, the magazine notes, these 11 high-income countries that have succeeded in “decoupling” carbon emissions from GDP growth will need more than 200 years, on average, to be able to bring their emissions close to zero. Moreover, it would release more than 27 times its fair share of the “global carbon budget” which is critical to avoiding catastrophic global warming beyond 1.5°C.

The authors argue that the pursuit of economic growth in high-income countries is inconsistent with internationally agreed climate goals. They call for a transformative “post-growth” climate policy based on the principles of sufficiency, equity and prosperity. Despite recent celebrations of high-income countries’ achievements in decoupling “green growth,” the study compares these countries’ carbon emissions reductions to those stipulated in the Paris Agreement, and concludes that their emissions reductions are far from adequate. Referring to such insufficient emissions cuts as “green growth” is misleading and amounts to greenwashing, says lead author Jevem Vogel of the University of Leeds, UK. Legitimate “green” growth should align with the climate goals and equity principles of the Paris Agreement, a standard that high-income countries have not yet achieved and are unlikely to achieve.

The 11 high-income countries under scrutiny are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. And none of these countries, despite the “decoupling” of emissions from growth, has been able to cut emissions near the pace required to comply with the Paris Agreement. The disparity between emissions cuts achieved and those in line with the Paris Agreement is stark. Emissions reductions between 2013 and 2019 averaged just 1.6% per year, while a rate of 30% per year is needed by 2025 for countries to commit to their fair share of the global carbon budget at 1.5°C.

In light of these findings, the authors argue that pursuing “green growth” in high-income countries will not achieve the reductions in emissions needed to meet the climate goals and fairness principles of the Paris Agreement. Instead, they suggest a “post-growth” approach. Professor Jason Heckel of the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) in Spain suggests that to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement, high-income countries should cut back on energy-intensive and less-essential production, and reduce energy-rich endowments. individual consumption, moving from private cars to public transportation, accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and improving efficiency through public financing. And unlike high-income countries, low-income countries have lower emissions per capita, which makes it more feasible to stay within a fair carbon budget while increasing production and consumption to meet human development goals.


The above article was originally published from Wired with minor edits to the title and text.

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