Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Decoupling New Zealand’s economic growth from GHG emissions

By Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

Global progress to avoid the worst impacts of climate change depends on our ability to separate economic growth and wellbeing from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They cannot continue to increase in lock step. One indicator of progress is our GHG intensity: tonnes of emissions per unit of GDP.

StatsNZ’s first report on New Zealand’s Environmental and Economic Accounts finds evidence this decoupling of our economic growth and emissions is occurring. Over 1990-2015, New Zealand’s economy grew by an average of 3.1% per year while GHG emissions increased 0.9% per year. This means that, over that 25 year period, the economy’s GHG intensity declined by an average of 2.2% per year. That shows progress, but it is not enough.