Carbon Emission Intensity of Economies

Historically, economic growth has been linked to CO2 emissions.  Although countries who obtain differing levels of per capita CO2 emissions can still have similar gross domestic product per capita levels, these differences occur due to the differences in the CO2 intensities of these economies.  The article on Our World In Data explains that CO2 intensity measures the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP. There are two key factors which affect the CO2 intensity of an economy; energy efficiency, and carbon efficiency.  Both factors simultaneously work together, because as efficiency improves in both energy and carbon usage, the CO2 emitted per unit of energy will fall.

The graph provided in the article shows CO2 intensity from 1990 to 2013 as a linear downward trend.  The CO2 intensity rates have been steadily falling since 1990. This can be considered a result of improved energy/technology efficiency, and increased capacity of renewables.

According to the graph, over the 23 year period between 1990 and 2013;

Total Change: -0.12kg

Decay Factor: (0.47kg/0.35kg)=0.74

Percentage change: (1-0.74)=.26= 26% decrease


Source: CO₂ and other Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Our World in Data 

4 thoughts on “Carbon Emission Intensity of Economies

  1. It is fascinating to look at the fact that CO2 levels and economic growth have been linked for the past few decades. And it is very encouraging to see that CO2 levels have been decreasing since the 1990s. I’d love to see what exactly are the economic resources that have been created to avoid emissions. Another idea that would be interesting to explore would be to see how negative economic growth impacts CO2 levels.

  2. I never thought that the economy and CO2 emissions could be related, but your post did a great job explaining just how intertwined they are. This linear downward trend seems hopeful though as Nick suggested, I would like to see how these trends rearrange in a bad economy. I am interested to know more about the different factors related to economic growth and decay and CO2 emissions. Perhaps one could make a graph that includes more factors, such as the state of economic growth or regions that are affected on a larger scale.

  3. I found your article and your graph to be very informative. I never before thought about how the economy could increase CO2 levels, but it makes total sense. With the economy rising, there will inevitably be a higher demand for products and trade, which also catalyzes an inevitable increase in CO2 emissions. Fossil fuel alternatives must be implemented if we want to see a halt to this problem.

  4. I think your post is extremely interesting. I too never would have linked the economy and CO2 emissions to be interrelated. It is fascinating to see the linear decrease over time. I agree with Abby, I would be interested to see more of the factors that contribute to this.

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