6. CO2 emissions, energy use and economic development: Latin America and the Caribbean

Economic growth and increased energy demand are closely linked to increased emissions of CO2.

If there is a shock in the economy, the response as reduced emissions of CO2, can be almost without inertia if the shock is large. The "oil crisis" in the early seventies-- during which energy prices rose substantially over a short period of time -- led to an almost immediate and sustained divergence of the formerly closely linked emissions and GDP in most developed countries. (IPCC 2001)

Stabilization of atmospheric CO2 concentration at levels below 600 ppm (1, 6 times higher than today’s level) is only possible with reductions in carbon intensity and/or energy intensity greater than have been achieved historically. Low historical rates of improvement in energy intensity (energy use per unit GDP) reflect the relatively low priority placed on energy efficiency by most producers and users of technology. (IPCC 2001)

There are no similar shocks to the oil crisis in 1973 in Latin America, but there is still a very close link between emissions, economic growth and energy demand. Latin America had a rather closed economy in the 1970s and since they produce a lot of oil themselves they were not much affected by the big oil crisis in 1973. As the graphic shows, high oil prices in the early 1980s stabilized the CO2 emissions for several years.

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