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Climate policy can be linked to development

Climate policy can be linked to development

Located in Sweden Now in recession. of Sweden The Norwegian Economic Institute said gross domestic product will fall by 1.1 percent this year. Unemployment is expected to end at eight percent. In other words, these are dark times. In addition to more people being out of work, a lack of economic growth means less money for welfare, lower wages, and companies waiting to invest.

But nothing about recession and shrinking GDP? Is a shutdown of economic activity good for the climate?

This is a common concept within parts of the environmental movement. The message is that we cannot have eternal growth and at the same time keep global temperature increase to the 1.5 degree target. The idea is that the human pursuit of wealth is fundamental to climate change.

To a large extent that is true. Industrialization led to enormous economic growth, but also carbon dioxide emissions. If the industrial boom had never taken place, and the majority of people in Europe had been running small farms, the emissions curves would not have been so steeply upward.

However, there is no reason to dream back to the pre-industrial era or to conclude that standards of living in the Western world must regress, and that developing countries should not embark on the same economic journey.

The underprivileged Elements of the environmental movement miss the fact that economic growth is a central aspect of the human effort to make life better. No growth, no welfare state, no social insurance and no improved healthcare. Abandoning growth means not only people going without ten pairs of jeans and three vacation trips to New York a year, but also lower life expectancy, worse treatments for the chronically ill, and lower pensions. And large groups of people in developing countries live in poverty.

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In other words, growth is something we should encourage. But burning coal and oil is not sustainable, just as climate change is not. Economic development must take place within the framework of an ecologically sustainable framework. But is it possible?

Yes, if National Economist Jonas Grafstrom is to be believed, who has just released a new one Report On behalf of Timbro. Over the past few decades, he has gone through the numbers. In Europe, emissions fell by 25 percent while the economy grew by 60 percent. In Sweden, we have become twice as rich in 30 years, but emissions have fallen by a third. Even as many products are manufactured overseas, emissions have fallen. From 2008 to 2018, consumption-based emissions fell by a fifth. Because the countries we import goods from, mostly other European countries, have reduced exports.

The reason growth increases when emissions fall is because growth is not just about producing more. It is about producing and consuming more efficiently.

Like LED lights. Something like this uses 80 percent less energy than a regular light bulb, but people don’t buy more lights for it. Productivity improvements generally create more value than increased output, and economic growth creates better and more energy-efficient products.

That it works Linking growth to reduced emissions is a conclusion drawn by environmental scientists at University College London (UCL). Report Since last year. They note that it is even possible to reach the 1.5 degree target without sacrificing growth. According to the researchers, countries that manage to reduce emissions through technological development and transition to non-fossil electricity generation will also see growth.

Does this mean the problem is solved and we can “carry on” as usual? No, of course not. Even to achieve climate goals, politics must step up and steer development in a sustainable direction. It is good that emissions have fallen in Europe over the past 30 years, but they must fall faster. In addition, large emitters such as China and India must adjust. Otherwise, the goals cannot be achieved. Researchers at UCL state, for example, that it is absolutely necessary for the entire world to stop using coal as an energy source.

Unfortunately, we are far from that today. For example, both Germany and Great Britain have recently restarted old coal-fired power plants to deal with the energy crisis. This is a huge setback and sends the wrong signal to the rest of the world.

But if there is political will, we can pursue ambitious climate action without becoming poor.

read more: A realistic climate policy is needed