Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Debunks Myth that Economic Growth Cannot Happen While Cutting Carbon Emissions
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Debunks Myth that Economic Growth Cannot Happen While Cutting Carbon Emissions

Washington, D.C. — Recent analysis from the Center for American Progress suggests that economic growth can happen while cutting carbon pollution. An issue brief released today by CAP shows that many countries and localities that have taken significant steps to cut carbon pollution have also seen economic growth.

Between 2005 and 2014, the U.S. economy grew by 13 percent, and energy-related carbon pollution fell by more than 8 percent. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries have shown similar gross domestic product growth while decreasing carbon emissions. Germany has seen high levels of productivity and economic growth alongside strong environmental and energy policies, and British Columbia, Canada—which instituted North America’s first carbon tax—has decreased emissions significantly with no negative effect on the economy.

“It is a misconception that taking steps to cut carbon emissions in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change would harm the economy,” said Myriam Alexander-Kearns, CAP Research Associate and co-author of the brief. “This is false. With the right mix of policies, it is more than possible to reduce carbon pollution while improving the economy. The United States should take action as a world leader to reduce carbon emissions. It makes economic sense and will protect the nation from the risks of inaction.”

Through a series of case studies, the CAP brief shows how states such as California and cooperatives such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI—which consists of nine states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic that apply a regional cap-and-trade system to electric power plants—have been able to maintain economic growth while cutting their carbon emissions. Similar results have been seen internationally. In the case of RGGI, partner states have seen a collective decrease in carbon emissions of 40 percent alongside an 8 percent bump in economic growth, outperforming the rest of the country on average. With the right policy and technological innovations, cutting carbon pollution and growing the economy need not be mutually exclusive.

Click here to read “Cutting Carbon Pollution While Promoting Economic Growth” by Myriam Alexander-Kearns & Alison Cassady

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.