Data collected by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled at 32.3 billion t in 2014, remaining in line with 2013.
In the 40 years in which IEA has been collecting CO2 emissions data, this is only the fourth time that emissions have either fallen or remained unchanged compared to the previous year. The first three instances were in the early 1980s, 1992 and 2009, all of which could be attributed to economic downturns. However, the global economy grew by 3% in 2014. As such, the latest halt in emissions could indicate that actions to mitigate climate change could be having a greater impact than previously believed.
According to the IEA, the emissions stall in 2014 is likely to be a result of changing energy consumption patterns in China and OECD countries. The former has been increasing renewable power generation and reducing coal consumption, while the latter have been placing greater emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
“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, who was recently named to take over from Maria van der Hoeven as the next IEA Executive Director. “This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one. 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.”
“The latest data on emissions are indeed encouraging, but this is no time for complacency – and certainly not the time to use this positive news as an excuse to stall further action,” added IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.
Adapted from press release by Louise Fordham
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