Economic prosperity and environmental preservation are often portrayed as mutually exclusive goals. But do we really have to choose between financial health and a healthy planet for future generations? Research from 41 states across the US says no.
Research from the World Resources Institute (WR) shows that since 2005, 41 states and Washington, D.C., have increased their GDPs while reducing their carbon emissions. This successful divorce of GDP growth and emissions growth demonstrates that it is possible to have an economically viable and sustainable future.
Overall, from 2005 to 2018, the United States’ overall GDP increased by 25 percent, while energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell 12 percent. These changes are primarily due to the shift from oil and gas to renewable energy sources and the implementation of stricter vehicle emissions standards.
In some states, the difference was more pronounced than the national average. Massachusetts increased its GDP by 26 percent and reduced emissions by 25 percent. Even traditionally red states saw similar progress. South Carolina grew its GDP by 21 percent while dropping emissions 20 percent.
Unfortunately, not all states experienced this trend. States like Idaho experienced GDP growth but also increased their emissions by 17 percent. States with the most progressive climate agendas saw the most beneficial outcomes both in terms of emissions reductions and in terms of economic growth. In order to continue these trends, states must expand their green policy changes to relatively unexplored sectors like transportation.
Technological advances have allowed us to disband the idea that environmental action must come at the expense of economic growth. We have the resources to implement a prosperous greener future, but we must use policy shifts to utilize these tools to our advantage.