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Economic Decline Has Less Impact on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Oct 08, 2012 08:22 AM EDT
Greenhouse gas emissions
A greenhouse gas recently uncovered by University of Toronto researchers is the most potent greenhouse gas ever discovered. Decline Has Less Impact on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Photo : Flickr)

The contribution of economic decline in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is very low, reveals a new study.

Researcher Richard York of the University of Oregon studied data collected between 1960 and 2008 from more than 150 nations in order to analyze the impact of economic decline on greenhouse gas emissions.

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Emission of greenhouse gases due to human activities is causing a significant increase in global temperatures.  

York revealed that the rate of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions was slightly more than half the rate of carbon release when the economy was booming.

Based on World Bank statistics from 150 nations, York estimated that the emission of greenhouse gases increased by an average of 0.73 percent for one percent growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, while there was just about 0.43 percent of reduction in emissions for every one percent decline in GDP per capita, according to a Reuters report.

"Economic decline ... doesn't lead to as big a decline in emissions as a comparable amount of economic growth leads to growth in emissions," York told Reuters.

He also noticed that the decline in emissions differed between nations during recession periods. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990s, some post-Soviet nations faced economic collapse and were facing similar conditions as in some poor sub-Saharan African nations which were not industrialized.

While greenhouse emissions also dropped during the economic decline in the Soviet nations, the reduction was not as low as in the poor African nations.

York pointed out that the difference is because the economic growth in Soviet nations had paved for more infrastructure like new factories, roads, homes, air-conditioners and cars. When recession hit those countries, people did not stop using their cars or running their factories. These factors contributed to rise in emissions.

He said that this could possibly explain as to why global carbon emissions did not decrease to a level as expected, ever since the economic crisis began in 2007, a report in LiveScience said.

The findings of the study published in the journal of Nature Climate Change suggest that the emission of carbon will be sensitive to both economic growth and decline, but in different measures.

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