Recently, people have responded positively to the IEA’s news that there are a number of countries where there appears to have been some degree of decoupling of carbon emissions from economic growth. For example, Carbon Brief have commented about it here:
This got the Planetary CFO thinking about how this relates to finite/closed system aspects of our planetary home. Decoupling is a good thing, but not sufficient of itself to prevent us making our home uninhabitable by a civil and multitudinous human population. What really matters is whether the cumulative atmospheric carbon can be kept within an absolute limit to prevent runaway climate change switching the Earth into a new and much less survivable equilibrium state. Hence we need a cumulative carbon budget, and hence human-generated carbon emissions need to be close to zero within the next couple of generations. There is also the matter of “leakage” – where some countries might be reducing their emissions, but importing more goods from elsewhere with high embedded carbon emissions, which means that they are effectively exporting their carbon emitting behaviours to the countries they import those goods from.
A graph, for a particular country, showing its economy growing and its carbon emissions falling might be a little comforting, 35 countries even more so, but it is far from showing that the battle for sustainability is being won.
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The Planetary CFO - working towards a sustainable World Balance Sheet.