CO2 and GDP

Based on popular demand here is my plot comparing GDP and CO2 emissions in the past and in the future:

The solid lines are historic data: GDP in constant 2010 USD from the World Bank in trillions of USD (; CO2 from Carbon Tracker in gigatons per year ( The dashed blue line describes +2.0% of annual growth, the dashed red line shows the effect reducing carbon emissions by 50% in ten years.

Before you start laughing, please note that this is the officially accepted policy for dealing with climate change. The G20 nations have a growth target of at least 2% and the same nations have signed the Paris agreement. All mainstream political parties support “squaring the circle” as a response to climate change: if we all continue doing what we have been doing in the past, a miracle will suddenly happen.

To make matters worse, very little of the economic activity of the world is related to providing for basic needs. We are wrecking the plant to generate capital income. After all, global debt is currently at roughly 260% of global GDP. If we assume a typical interest rate of 2%, it means that 5% of global GDP is directly transferred to the bank accounts of the rich without passing through the hands of anyone.

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

Richard Feynman