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In this section, we demonstrate how certain environmental impacts are evolving over time, in absolute, per capita, and per dollar GDP bases.

Image Under Development: decoupling.jpg

Evolution of major environmental impacts over time. For comparison, population figures are taken from the UN [11] and GDP figures from the World Bank [13]. The purchasing power parity is used for GDP after 1990, and the exchange rate is used before 1990. World primary energy is from BP [1], municipal solid waste from Chen et al. [2], land use figures and nitrogen fertilizer from FAOSTAT [3], lead production from the International Lead Association [4], biomass, metal, and mineral figures from Krausmann et al. [5], CO2 emissions from Le Quéré et al.[6], air pollution in the OECE from the OECD [7], access to clean water from Ritchie and Roser [8], extreme poverty rates from Roser and Ortiz-Ospina [9], methane from the World Bank [10], ozone-depleting emissions from the World Meteorological Organization [12], water withdrawal from Worldometer [14], and mercury emissions from Zhang et al. [15].

All impact figures are worldwide except for NOx, CO, SOx, and VOC figures, which are reported for OECD countries. A portion of the decline of these impacts may be explained by offshoring of industry.

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[1] BP. "Statistical Review of World Energy 2020". 2020.

[2] Chen, D., Bodirsky, B., Krueger, T., Mishra, A., Popp, A. "The world's growing municipal solid waste: trends and impacts". Environmental Research Letters 15(7). April 2020.

[3] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. "FAOSTAT".

[4] International Lead Association. "Lead Production & Statistics". Accessed July 2, 2020.

[5] Krausmann, F., Gingrich, S., Eisenmenger, N., Erb, K. H., Haberl, H., Fischer-Kowalski, M. "Growth in global materials use, GDP and population during the 20th century". Ecological Economics 68, pp. 2696-2705. 2009.

[6] Le Quéré et al. "Global Carbon Budget 2018". ICOS Carbon Portal. 2018.

[7] OECD. "Air and GHG emissions (indicator)". Accessed July 2, 2020.

[8] Ritchie, H., Roser, M. "Clean Water". Our World in Data. Accessed July 3, 2020.

[9] Roser, M., Ortiz-Ospina, E. "Global Extreme Poverty". Our World in Data. Accessed July 3, 2020.

[10] The World Bank. "Methane emissions (kt of CO2 equivalent)". Accessed July 2, 2020.

[11] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Population Estimates and Projections Section. "World Population Prospects 2019". Accessed June 29, 2020.

[12] WMO (World Meteorological Organization). Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018. Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project–Report No. 58, 588 pp., Geneva, Switzerland. 2018.

[13] World Bank. "GDP, PPP (constant 2017 international $)". Accessed June 29, 2020.

[14] Worldometer. "Global Water Use". Accessed July 2, 2020.

[15] Zhang, Y., Jacob, D., Horowitz, H., Chen, L., Amos, H., Krabbenhoft, D., Slemr, F., St. Louis, V., Sunderland, E. "Observed decrease in atmospheric mercury explained by global decline in anthropogenic emissions". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(3) pp. 526-531. January 2016.