Still decoupling? GDP, energy use and CO2 emmissions in Denmark

[the post was updated with corrected data, see comments]

In a report from 2004, the Danish Ministry of the Environment published a graph illustrating the decoupling of economic growth from energy use and CO2 emissions. The graph shows that (after a restructuring phase in the beginning of the 1980s), GDP was increasing continuously since while energy use was stable and CO2 emissions even dropping since 1991. So the Danish economy was actually effectively decoupling from energy use and emissions.

I was wondering how the most current development looks like and if Denmark is still following this trend. After having some trouble with the data*, I finally managed to produce a current version. I used 1990 as an index as this is also the year Kyoto is refering to. Looking at the last decade we can see that energy use was slightly increasing until the ecomonic crisis and is since dropping and today back at the level of 1975. CO2 emissions have continued to drop which shows a real decoupling of the Danish economy from CO2 emissions.

GDP energy and CO2 in DK_correctedData sources: Statistics Denmark Table NAHL2 and Danish Energy Agency

It seems like investments in energy efficiency and renewable and CO2-neutral energy are making real progress. However, other factors like the outsourcing of CO2-emmitting and energy-intensive economic activities might also play a role. A footprint analysis could give clarity in that case.

* One data issue is, that emissions from international transport are not included the Kyoto-CO2 emissions target. However, while inland CO2 emissions were decreasing, CO2 emissions caused by e.g. Danish operated ships abroad was increasing heavily, and actually outpacing the inland reduction. So if this would be included in the CO2 balance, Denmark would actually have a strongly increasing CO2 emissions, increasing similarly to GDP.


~ by landblend on 17/03/2015.

2 Responses to “Still decoupling? GDP, energy use and CO2 emmissions in Denmark”

  1. I think you might have got the wrong data. I just checked the data from Statistics Denmark (GDP) and the Danish Energy Agency (Gross Energy Consumption and CO2 emissions) and it was easy to recreate the famous decoupliing chart and extend it to include up to 2013.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I just checked it again and you are right. It seems like the gross energy use data from DST ( which I used is not corrected data (though I am not exactly sure corrected for what – possibly again the Danish ships play a role here). According to corrected data from ENS, gross energy use is stable, not increasing.

    I will correct the post asap.

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