Decoupling at a glance

29 November 2018
Carbon emissions
Economic growth
Energy commodities


Title: Decoupling at a glance: Counter evidence from outsourcing

Authors: Maddalena Ripa, Louisa Jane Di Felice, Mario Giampietro (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Date: November 2018




The Paris Agreement, established in October of 2016 [1], pledges that countries will limit global temperatures to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with an aim to keep the rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. While the Paris agreement has worked to reduce GHG emissions, both developed and developing are attempting to maintain their economic growth at sustainable rates: the idea is that we can continue growing our economies while reducing total carbon emissions to a safe level (aka decoupling).

Nevertheless, substantial outsourcing of production from industrial countries may create an illusion of decoupling. In MAGIC, we take a biophysical multiscalar approach to model the outsourcing of GHG and energy as well as other nexus elements. Through a multi-scalar approach, we argue that the effects of outsourcing of the extraction of primary energy sources and conversion to energy carriers cannot be neglected and deserve much closer attention in order to better inform policy-making.


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