Can We Slash Carbon Emissions and Still Have Economic Growth? (AKIELLY HU & JOSEPH WINTERS, 3/10/24, Grist)

But the kind of decoupling needed to achieve international climate targets is called “absolute” decoupling, when economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions veer in opposite directions: GDP up, emissions down. More recent research has documented this in a number of high-income countries. The U.S., for example, saw a 32 percent increase in GDP between 2005 and 2021, while its overall CO2 emissions fell by about 17 percent.

Something similar appears to have happened in other developed economies like France, Sweden, and Germany—even when you account for so-called “consumption-based” emissions, which include emissions from the production of goods that are imported or exported. In other words, these countries seem to really be reducing climate pollution and not just offshoring it to the developing world.

Since 2016, reports from the World Resources Institute, the Breakthrough Institute, and independent researchers have shown more and more countries achieving periods of absolute decoupling, including their consumption-based emissions. Perhaps the splashiest analysis came in 2022, when a Financial Times data columnist reported that 70 countries—one in three worldwide—had experienced at least five consecutive years of absolute decoupling between 1990 and 2020. “Green growth is already here,” the columnist wrote.