MPs call for emissions data alongside GDP

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has called for estimates of greenhouse gas emissions to be published alongside GDP figures to indicate properly whether economic growth and slashing emissions can be achieved together.

In letters to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to the National Statistician, the EAC acknowledges that GDP is useful in offering a clear headline figure. Its narrow scope, however, fails to acknowledge other indicators such as environmental statistics and social capital, and MPs therefore argue that it is not a sufficient metric to use to assess prosperity and societal wellbeing.

While the UK has had some success in decoupling carbon dioxide emissions from GDP growth over the last three decades, the EAC warns that much more must be done for the UK to meet future carbon budgets on the path to net-zero.

The EAC would like measures to go even further, arguing that to meet climate and nature goals, policy decisions on tax, spending, project appraisal and financial regulation must all be made through a “net-zero and environmental sustainability lens”.

EAC chairman, Philip Dunne, said: “Publishing estimates of environmental performance and greenhouse gas emissions alongside the quarterly release of GDP figures will enable the public to see whether we are achieving economic growth while slashing emissions and improving environmental performance. A new metric could offer a helpful stocktake to highlight whether the UK’s greening efforts are working, or whether they are merely greenwashing.”

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