Friday, March 26, 2010

The Green Budget: economy’s carbon efficiency doubles

While the Budget, such as it was, has grabbed the attention of most of us who find our thrills in politics and in numbers, there was another important set of national accounts published this week.

The latest figures on UK greenhouse emissions show an 8.5% drop in 2009 – the biggest on record, by far. But, of course, there was a bloody great recession going on last year, and less economic activity is bound to mean fewer emissions.

So I’ve charted the growth (or shrinkage) of the economy alongside changes in greenhouse emissions (the red and green bars, measured on the left-hand axis), as well as the economy’s carbon efficiency – the amount of GDP produced for a given level of greenhouse emissions (the blue line, using 1990 as a baseline of 100, on the right-hand axis):

Last year, emissions fell by a good deal more than GDP, and this follows a period of economic growth during which emissions fell almost every year.

In 18 years, the UK economy’s carbon efficiency has doubled.

However, the government’s target is to reduce emissions by 80% from the 1990 level by 2050. At the average rate of reduction over the decade to 2008, it would take 100 years to achieve this.

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