(Bloomberg) -- Britain will become the first major economy to report greenhouse-gas pollution on a quarterly basis, an effort to give policy makers a better picture of how the state of the economy is impacting the environment.
National Statistician Ian Diamond confirmed the decision in a letter to the head of Parliament’s Environmental Accounts Committee published Tuesday. A pilot ONS publication ran on May 12, and the EAC said it was now a “commitment.”
The move makes the UK only the third country, after New Zealand and Sweden, to release emissions data every three months and builds on the government’s net zero ambition for by 2050. Britain is shifting its economy away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner forms of energy, and measuring pollution levels will help it track progress.
“While a Gross Domestic Product metric will always be required to measure the economy, we also accept the need for a broader set of indicators to account for wider environmental and social progress,” Diamond said. The emissions figures will lag the GDP data by a quarter or two, the ONS said.
Until recently, economic growth has risen in lock-step with emissions, suggesting further expansion would increase the amount of climate-damaging pollutants put into the atmosphere. The UK broke that link in 2007, when it started to cut consumption-based emissions, which include those imported in manufactured goods from overseas.
Philip Dunne, chair of the EAC, said that the emissions initiative -- alongside an expansion of wellbeing measures -- “are of substantial public benefit in facilitating a rounded assessment of the interplay of economic growth and societal well-being.”
In a related letter, Helen Whately, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said she recognized that “concerns have been raised relating to the use of GDP as a headline figure in the system of national accounts, and your request for the ONS to publish, as part of its GDP release, quarterly estimates of GHG emissions.”
She added: “Nonetheless, GDP remains one of our most important economic indicators as it tends to be closely correlated with employment, incomes and tax receipts, making it useful for the government and Bank of England when setting economic policy and managing the public finances.”
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