UK emissions data should be published alongside economic growth figures, say MPs

The Environmental Audit Committee said GDP data currently fails to take into account environmental statistics and the wider society.

05 April 2022

Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions should be published alongside quarterly economic growth figures to help measure the UK’s progress towards net zero goals, according to MPs.

The Environmental Audit Committee is calling for estimates of environmental sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions to be included in gross domestic product (GDP) figures.

In letters to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the UK’s National Statistician Sir Ian Diamond, the Commons committee warned that the narrow scope of GDP means it “fails to acknowledge other indicators such as environmental statistics and social capital”.

GDP is therefore “not a sufficient metric to use to assess prosperity and societal wellbeing”, the cross-party group of MPs said.

It comes after Cambridge economist Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, who recently reviewed the issue for the Treasury, cautioned that GDP encourages the pursuit of “unsustainable economic growth and development” by not taking into account natural assets.

The committee said the UK must “pull out all the stops” to meet climate change goals and that the inclusion of environmental data alongside GDP would allow more accurate judgments to be made on the state of the economy, the environment and wider society.

Philip Dunne, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “Publishing estimates of environmental performance and greenhouse gas emissions alongside the quarterly release of GDP figures will enable the public to see whether we are achieving economic growth while slashing emissions and improving environmental performance.

“A new metric could offer a helpful stocktake to highlight whether the UK’s greening efforts are working, or whether they are merely greenwashing.”

He added: “The UK is currently falling behind in meeting its future carbon budgets: we must pull out all the stops to ensure that economic policy is not viewed in isolation from climate and environment policy.”

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