EU Says Economy Grew as Emissions Decreased

Cows graze amid wind turbines in Eastern Friesland, Germany.

(CN) – In stark contradiction to a frequent refrain of the Republican Party in the United States, the European Union reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent and grew its economy by 53 percent in the last quarter century.

The European Commission revealed its figures at the start of the United Nations Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, on Tuesday.

According to climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, the quest to cut CO2 emissions is a key reason why the EU economy continues to grow.

“Two years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the EU remains fully committed to reducing its domestic emissions by at least 40 percent between 1990 and 2030. We are on track to meet our 2020 target and close to finalizing our climate legislation for the next decade. Our emissions decline while the economy grows, largely thanks to innovative technologies, showing that growth and climate action can go hand in hand,” Arias Canete said in a statement.

“However, there are still challenges ahead, as transport emissions in the EU continue to grow. This is why the commission will present tomorrow measures to slash emissions from cars and vans in the decade starting 2021,” the commissioner added.

The commission said EU emissions decreased by 0.7 percent in 2016 while the gross domestic product grew by 1.9 percent. The continent is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, as required by the Paris Climate Accord.

In June, President Donald Trump said the United States would withdraw from the Paris agreement, joining Syria as the only two nations on the planet not to sign on. At the time, Trump called the pact “draconian,” a “bad deal” for the United States, and said he was elected “to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

The Trump administration has since moved rapidly to eliminate Obama-era policies aimed at helping the United States achieve its emissions-reduction goals under the Paris agreement. He claimed the climate agreement would cost 2.7 million U.S. jobs by 2025.

In Europe, according to the commission, the opposite is happening.

And also on Monday, war-torn Syria said it would sign the Paris agreement – leaving the United States as the final holdout.

The United States is the planet’s second largest emitter of CO2.

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