Global carbon emissions stall, finds IEA data
Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.
"This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today," said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, recently named to take over as the next IEA Executive Director.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3bn tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.
The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries. In China, 2014 saw greater generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind, and less burning of coal. In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth – including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy – are producing the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.
"This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one," added Birol. "It provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December: for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth."
Ed Davey, the UK's Energy and Climate Change Secretary, commented: “These figures show that green growth is achievable not just for Britain but for the world. However we cannot be complacent – we need to dramatically cut emissions, not just stop their growth.
“Getting a new global climate deal is absolutely vital, and the year ahead is going to be of critical importance. The UK must stay the course and continue to show strong, decisive leadership in Europe and globally.”
More details on the data and analysis will be included in an IEA special report on energy and climate that will be released on 15 June in London.