De-carbonization to restrict future global warming to 1.5 °C is technically feasible but may impose a “limit” or “planetary boundary” to economic growth, depending on whether or not human society can decouple growth from emissions. In this paper, we assess the viability of decoupling. First, we develop a prognosis of climate-constrained global growth for 2014–2050 using the transparent Kaya identity. Second, we use the Carbon-Kuznets-Curve framework to assess the effect of economic growth on emissions using measures of territorial and consumption-based emissions. We run fixed-effects regressions using OECD data for 58 countries during 2007–2015 and source alternative emissions data starting in 1992 from two other databases. While there is weak evidence suggesting a decoupling of emissions and growth at high-income levels, the main estimation sample indicates that emissions are monotonically increasing with per-capita GDP. We draw out the implications for climate policy and binding emission reduction obligations.
- climate change
- consumption-based CO emissions
- economic growth
- Paris agreement