OECD Green Growth Studies

2222-9523 (online)
2222-9515 (print)
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The OECD Green Growth Strategy aims to provide concrete recommendations and measurement tools, including indicators, to support countries’ efforts to achieve economic growth and development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which well-being relies. The strategy proposes a flexible policy framework that can be tailored to different country circumstances and stages of development.

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Green Growth Indicators 2017

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20 June 2017
9789264268623 (EPUB) ; 9789264268586 (PDF) ;9789264265776(print)

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Green growth policies need to be founded on a good understanding of the determinants of green growth and need to be supported with appropriate indicators to monitor progress. This book presents a selection of updated and new indicators that illustrate the progress that OECD and G20 countries have made since the 1990s. It updates the 2014 edition.

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  • Preface

    Green growth is about fostering growth and development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies. Governments that pursue policies designed to promote green growth, need to catalyse investment and innovation that underpin growth and give rise to new economic opportunities. They also need indicators that can raise awareness, measure progress and identify opportunities and risks.

  • Executive summary

    Our ability to sustain economic and social progress in the long run will depend on our capacity to reduce dependence on natural capital as a source of growth, abate pollution, enhance the quality of physical and human capital and reinforce our institutions. Delivering the quality of growth to which citizens of OECD and G20 countries aspire will require concerted action across countries and within ministries invested in green growth – finance, economy, industry, trade and agriculture, among others.

  • Reader's guide

    The OECD green growth indicators enable the monitoring of progress towards four main objectives: establishing a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy; maintaining the natural asset base; improving people’s quality of life; and implementing appropriate policy to realise the economic opportunities of green growth.

  • Progress towards green growth: An overview

    This chapter provides an overview of progress towards green growth in OECD and G20 countries. It builds on a cross-thematic analysis of some central elements of green growth. To that end, it uses a small set of headline indicators describing carbon and material productivity, environmentally adjusted multifactor productivity and population exposure to air pollution. These are complemented by indicators on land consumption by buildings, environmentally related innovation and taxation, and on income levels and inequality. For each aspect of green growth covered, it provides an overview of key developments drawing on results from the substantive chapters of the report.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The environmental and resource productivity of the economy

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    • Carbon productivity

      Carbon dioxide (CO2) from the combustion of fossil fuels and biomass accounts for 90% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is thus a key factor in countries’ ability to deal with climate change. The stabilisation of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere depends on implementation of coherent national and international policies that aim at structural and technological changes. It depends on countries’ ability to further decouple CO2 and other GHG emissions growth from economic growth, and reduce the overall level of emissions.

    • Energy productivity

      Energy is an essential input in all economic activities. The structure of a country’s energy supply and the efficiency of its energy use are key determinants of environmental performance and economic development. These, in turn, help determine green growth.

    • Material productivity and waste

      Material resources form the physical foundation of the economy. They differ in their physical and chemical characteristics, their abundance and their value to countries. The use of raw materials from natural resources and the related production and consumption processes have environmental, economic and social consequences beyond national borders. Improving resource productivity and ensuring a sustainable management of material resources is critical from both supply security and environmental perspectives.

    • Nutrient flows and balances

      The sustainability of agro-food systems is at the centre of green growth considerations. There are three main concerns related to sustainability: food security, run-off of nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from commercial fertiliser use and intensive livestock farming, and pesticide residues that may leach into surface water and groundwater and enter the food chain. Farming also contributes to climate change and can lead to deterioration in soil, water and air quality and to loss of natural habitats and biodiversity. These environmental changes can, in turn, have implications for agricultural production and limit the sustainability of agriculture. But farming can also provide sinks for greenhouse gases (GHGs), help conserve biodiversity and landscapes, and help prevent floods and landslides.

    • Environmentally adjusted multifactor productivity

      Rising productivity is a key source of long-run economic growth that can increase material living standards. To capture the role of environmental services, the OECD productivity framework was extended to calculate the environmentally adjusted multifactor productivity (EAMFP) growth. The EAMFP thus measures a country’s ability to generate income from a given set of inputs (including also domestic natural resources). At the same time, it accounts for the production of undesirable environmental by-products (pollution).

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The natural asset base

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    • Land resources

      Land and soil resources are essential components of the natural asset base of the economy and of ecosystems. They are both a private property and a (global and local) common; they are critical for the production of food and other biomass, support recreational activities and, more generally, provide a physical foundation for all economic activity. The way land is used and managed influences everything in the environment. This ranges from biodiversity and ecosystem services (including erosion risk, flood protection, etc.) to soil, water and air quality, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

    • Forest resources

      Forests are among the most diverse and widespread ecosystems on Earth. Among their functions, they provide timber and other products, and deliver cultural and recreational benefits. Forests also provide ecosystem services, including regulation of soil, air and water. In addition, they are reservoirs for biodiversity, and act as carbon sinks.

    • Freshwater resources

      Freshwater resources, whose distribution varies widely among and within countries, are of major environmental and economic importance. Various forces exert pressure on water resources. These include over-abstraction and degradation due to pollution loads from human activities (agriculture, industry, households), changes in climate and weather conditions, and the introduction of invasive species. Over-abstraction of water, in particular, can have significant environmental and socio-economic consequences. These range from low river flows, depleted groundwater and degraded water quality (including salinisation of freshwater bodies in coastal areas), to loss of wetlands, desertification and risks for both food security and economic production.

    • Biodiversity, ecosystems and wildlife resources

      Biological resources (terrestrial, aquatic and marine) provide production inputs for many sectors of the economy. They are essential elements of ecosystems and natural capital, and their diversity is key to maintaining life-support systems and quality of life.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The environmental quality of life

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    • Air pollution, health risks and costs

      Air pollution is the single greatest environmental health risk worldwide. Reducing risks to human health from degraded air quality, then, is central for improving people’s lives and well-being. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), in particular, is the most serious pollutant globally from a human health perspective. Chronic exposure even to moderate levels of PM2.5 substantially increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in OECD countries. It also increases the risk of respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and respiratory infections (WHO, 2016; Burnett et al., 2014; Brauer et al., 2016). Other pollutants of most concern are small particulates (PM10), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Emissions from transport, industry, electricity generation, agriculture and domestic (household) sources are the main contributors to outdoor air pollution (EEA, 2016a; Caiazzo et al., 2013).

    • Access to water supply, sanitation and sewage treatment

      Globally, inadequate access to safe water supply and sanitation acts as a large drag on economic growth and well-being. It affects people’s health, increasing mortality and morbidity. It also reduces labour productivity, increases healthcare costs and undermines freshwater ecosystems.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Economic opportunities and policy responses

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    • Technology and innovation

      Innovation is a key driver of productivity and economic growth. It can help achieve environmental objectives at lower costs, and lead to new business opportunities and markets. It is widely acknowledged that far-reaching innovation will be needed to address climate change and other environmental challenges, and to accelerate the transition to green growth.

    • Markets for environmentally related products

      A well-managed transition to a greener economy is at the heart of the green growth model. It involves a shift to cleaner products and production processes, substitution of dirty inputs for cleaner ones, and a shift to consumption patterns with lower environmental footprints such as the sharing economy. They also comprise increased reuse, repairing and recycling, and overall moderation of consumption – particularly of resource-intensive goods and services.

    • International financial flows

      Foreign sources of public and private finance can be useful in countries lacking sufficient access to domestic sources of finance. They can help catalyse investment for environmental projects and technologies, thus fulfilling the twin development-environment objectives. Public and private sources of international finance can also contribute to cross-border exchange of know-how and skills, foster local entrepreneurship and strengthen local absorptive capacity. This, in turn, can facilitate international technology transfer.

    • Taxes and subsidies

      Market-based instruments play a key role in facilitating the transition towards green growth. Compared to regulatory instruments, such as emission limits or prescriptive technology standards, environmentally related taxation encourages the lowest-cost abatement across polluters. It also provides incentives for abatement at each unit of pollution. In addition, the revenue raised can be used to support fiscal consolidation or to reduce other taxes (e.g. taxes on labour and capital that distort the labour supply and saving decisions). Shifting the overall tax burden away from labour and capital towards environmentally harmful consumption and production patterns, while maintaining the overall level of redistribution constant, can improve economic efficiency.

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  • The OECD set of green growth indicators

    The list of indicators has been kept flexible so that countries can adapt it to their particular contexts. It also balances the desire to be exhaustive and the need for simplicity. Not all issues of importance to green growth can be measured in quantitative terms. Not all indicators proposed here are equally relevant to all countries.

  • Glossary

    This Glossary includes additional information on the main variables and indicators used in this report. An overview by chapter is given below.

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