Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Flatline in 2014

March 18, 2015

Efforts to minimize climate change may be more effective than previously thought.

The wide variety of efforts to cut CO2 emissions from the energy sector may finally be seeing results, as a new study from the International Energy Agency notes that global emissions stalled in 2014. This marks the first time in 40 years that emissions have not increased or been reduced that isn’t tied to a slide in the economy. The IEA data shows that global carbon dioxide emissions kept steady at 32.3 billion tons in 2014, staying largely unchanged from 2013’s emissions figures.

The IEA points to changing patterns of energy generation in China and OECD countries as a big factor, with China using a larger percentage of renewables such as hydropower, solar, and wind, with other OECD economies’ increased focus on sustainable growth and energy efficiency also playing a major role. While emissions stalled, the global economy expanded by 3%, which is the first time since the IEA began collecting data on carbon emissions that global emissions stayed stagnant while the economy grew.

“This is both a welcome surprise and a significant one as 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,” says Fatih Birol, chief economist for the IEA. 

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