Greenhouse Gas Emission Drivers: Population, Economic Development and Growth, and Energy Use [Updated April 24, 2007]   [open pdf - 277KB]

From the Summary: "In the context of climate change and possible responses to the risk associated with it, three variables strongly influence the levels and growth of greenhouse gas emissions: population, income (measured as per capita gross domestic product [GDP]), and intensity of emissions (measured as tons of greenhouse gas emissions per million dollars of GDP).[…] This is the relationship for a given point in time; over time, any effort to change emissions alters the exponential rates of change of these variables. This means that the rates of change of the three left-hand variables, measured in percentage of annual change, sum to the rate of change of the right-hand variable, emissions. […] Stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions would mean the rate of change equals zero. Globally, with a population growth rate of 1.4% per year and an income growth rate of 1.7% per year, intensity would have to decline at a rate of -3.1% per year to hold emissions at the level of the year that rate of decline went into effect. Within the United States, at the 1990s population growth rate of 1.2% per year and income growth rate of 1.8% per year, intensity would have had to decline at a rate of -3.0% per year to hold emissions level; however, U.S. intensity declined at a rate of -1.6%, leaving emissions to grow at 1.4% per year. President Bush's Climate Change Initiative seeks to increase the rate of intensity decline through 2012 by about -0.4% per year -- well short of stabilizing or reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33970
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