Are carbon emissions a drag on the economy?

Did you know that not all those who oppose the evidence of climate change do so from a denialist position? There are people who deny the possibility of reducing carbon emissions for one simple reason: the economy.

Since the 20th century, the world economy has been based on the burning of fossil fuels. On a large scale, it was first coal, and then oil: both the lifeblood that has run factories and transportation large and small.

Naturally, although very harmful to the environment, such combustion generates large masses of CO2, one of the main Greenhouse Gases (GHG).

And then there is the food issue: an ever-increasing demand for meat, complemented by unstoppable growth in the world population. Meat from cattle and sheep: generators of large, enormous amounts of another GHG: methane.

So is it possible that the reduction of carbon emissions goes hand in hand with the growth of the economy?

A little perspective

In view of the premise raised, one could assume that, with an economy based on fossil fuels, any limitation in the use of them, with the consequent reduction in emissions, would constitute a drag on economic growth. But is this a universal truth?

Not necessarily. Back in 2014, a series of studies revealed that the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) had grown in line with a stabilization of carbon emissions.

This trend continued for a year, in 2015, when several optimistic voices were raised that believed the issue resolved. And it was true that a score of countries had managed, to some extent, to become independent from fossil fuels.

End of story? Nothing further, since global carbon emissions had increased.

The need for a global effort

With the hopeful results of 2014, another data would come later that would be like a jug of cold water. Emission levels had risen… globally. And we are not talking about a slight increase: 10 billion tons

The reason? Only a small score of countries had managed to greatly reduce their carbon emissions; 21 countries to be more exact, of the more than 170 that exist.

The rest of the countries, those 170, continue to develop at the mercy of a traditional, polluting growth, linked to the combustion of fossil fuels and, therefore, to growing carbon emissions. Small countries, like Uzbekistan, and others as large and crucial as some of the powerful and emerging BRICS: Brazil, India or China.

So are there alternatives?

Circular Economy

The so-called circular economy is closely related to a vital concept for healthy, respectful and fair development: sustainability.

It is, therefore, a more than excellent strategy to reduce carbon emissions; which is not one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the 2030 Agenda.

A more sustainable economy in the use of its resources, together with the reduction of carbon emissions, would help, among others, to:

  • Fighting climate change and mitigating its virulent effects
  • Discover and generate new business opportunities that support competitiveness, innovation and growth
  • Ensure access for the entire population to essential resources

A (hopeful) conclusion

Models of green and circular economies would contribute to an improvement of the economy, with the consequent reduction of carbon emissions.

These models would also make us less dependent on an excessive consumption of resources, in line with our growth in population numbers.

And it is that many place the environmental and economic systems at the same level; When the second should be dependent on the first, because it depends entirely on the use of finite resources. Do you join the cause against carbon emissions and in favor of the environment and ecosystems?

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