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A stable climate or economic growth?

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The 2015 UN Paris Agreement reinforced and declared compatible the two goals of avoiding dire climate change and maintaining global economic growth, and it specified that technological innovation is ‘critical’ to this joint achievement. Unfortunately, any confidence that near-term global economic growth is consistent with a stabilized climate is severely undermined by empirical evidence. Despite the rapid increase of alternative energies in recent decades, global GDP growth continues to require burning greater quantities of climate-destabilizing fossil fuels. The dim outlook for sufficiently reducing CO2 while maintaining economic growth is underscored by global data and Germany specific data on the decoupling of GDP from CO2. This paper summarizes pertinent climate science, substantiates the dependence of economic growth on fossil fuels, and uses the Kaya identity to demonstrate the unfavorable prospects for reducing CO2 while maintaining GDP growth.
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Keywords: Economic growth; Q43; Q54; climate change; decouple GDP

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics and Business, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2017

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