The UK has been the most successful G7 nation at both growing its economy and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions over the last 25 years, new research shows.

A report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) found that since the signing of the United Nations Climate Convention at the Rio Earth Summit, Britons have become richer, on average, than citizens of any other G7 nation. At the same time, the country has reduced its average carbon footprint further than citizens of any other G7 nation.

The report was released to coincide with the launch of Mission 2020, a new initiative convened by former Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention Christiana Figueres, which aims to have global greenhouse gas emissions declining by 2020.

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the findings demolish the argument that curbing climate change ruins economies.

“It’s really time to slay once and for all the old canard that cutting carbon emissions means economic harm,” he said.

Possible to get both richer and cleaner

“As this report shows, if you have consistent policymaking and cross-party consensus, it’s perfectly possible to get richer and cleaner at the same time. Britain isn’t the only country that’s done it – it’s true for most of the G7 – but we’ve clearly been the best of the bunch.

“There are signs that these successes are now transferring to the rest of the world. Globally, emissions have been flat for three years while world GDP has grown by 8%. But science indicates this isn’t enough to fulfil the objective of the UN Convention and prevent ‘dangerous’ climate change – for that, emissions need to start falling soon. This study should give confidence that with good policies, it’s achievable.”

In 2014 – the most recent year for which full figures across the G7 are available – UK per-capita greenhouse gas emissions were 33% down on 1992. UK per-capita GDP, meanwhile, grew by more than 130%.

> Read more on the report here