In an article published in Science magazine this morning, the outgoing President makes the case for investments in clean energy as a way of “decoupling” economic growth from carbon emissions. The data and information provided in the article bolsters his case:
Since 2008, the United States has experienced the first sustained period of rapid GHG emissions reductions and simultaneous economic growth on record. Specifically, CO2emissions from the energy sector fell by 9.5% from 2008 to 2015, while the economy grew by more than 10%. In this same period, the amount of energy consumed per dollar of real gross domestic product (GDP) fell by almost 11%, the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of energy consumed declined by 8%, and CO2 emitted per dollar of GDP declined by 18% (2 Council of Economic Advisers, in “Economic report of the President” (Council of Economic Advisers, White House, Washington, DC, 2017), pp. 423–484; http://bit.ly/2ibrgt9.).
The International Energy Agency has released reports that support these findings, including this summary in the 2015 Energy Efficiency Market Report:
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries’ energy consumption is now as low as it was in 2000, while GDP has expanded by USD 8.5 trillion, an increase of 26%. This suggests that these countries have successfully decoupled economic growth from energy consumption growth, with energy efficiency being the main contributing factor.
Both of these reports are worth reviewing if you have an interest in the policy and market dynamics of the energy sector.
Bottom line for energy buyers and finance professionals: The trends noted above, which suggest a decoupling of economic growth from carbon emissions and energy intensity, will likely continue in the future. Improved energy information and technology, lower cost of new energy technologies, investment by the private and public sectors in energy efficiency and renewables will continue to drive these trends.