EAC welcomes ONS move to publish emissions statistics alongside GDP figures

The Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, has written to the National Statistician welcoming the development that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will start publishing carbon emissions statistics alongside quarterly GDP figures.

The ONS commitment came in response to an EAC recommendation that GDP growth figures be presented alongside statistics on environmental impact. During its inquiry into Aligning the UK’s economic goals with environmental sustainability, EAC heard that the narrow scope of the GDP indicator does not encompass other measures of wider prosperity and well-being such as environmental statistics and social capital.

While the UK has been making progress in reducing emissions, more must be done to meet current and future carbon budgets. To succeed, policy decisions on tax, spending, project appraisal and financial regulation must all be made through the lens of net zero and environmental sustainability. The ONS plans to publish emissions statistics alongside GDP figures will therefore enable policymakers to make more accurate judgements on the state of the economy, the environment and wider society.

EAC has welcomed the very positive engagement of the ONS with its recommendations, and plans to continue its dialogue on the development of statistics which can provide the best possible basis for evaluation and policymaking in the environmental sphere.  In response, the Chair of the EAC has written to the National Statistician seeking an update on any evaluation undertaken on the pilot.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

“A step change is needed from the economy of the past, to the economy fit for our net zero future: and how we report GDP is part of this journey. Net zero Britain will require policy in all areas to align with our environmental goals. But achieving net zero cannot come at the cost of economic prosperity, and vice versa.

“In accepting our Committee’s recommendation to publish emissions statistics alongside GDP, the Office for National Statistics will offer policymakers and commentators the tools to keep net zero on track while keeping a clear focus on economic progress. These aims can be achieved together: recently published analysis has confirmed that the full decarbonisation of our power system could come at a cost no greater than that of current policy plans on energy security.

“I look forward to the outcome of the ONS evaluation of this pilot; and I encourage Ministers and officials to examine these indicators in the round when developing and implementing policy.”

The EAC has also published a response from the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury to a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer following its inquiry, in which the Committee again made the case for a Net Zero test for all Government policy decisions.



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