In the past, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was due to an economic downturn. That’s because economic growth is often linked to increased energy use, which in turn increases emissions. The “decoupling” of the economy and carbon emissions was likely the result of efforts by energy companies to fight climate change, the IEA says.
Last year, global carbon dioxide emissions reached 32.3 billion metric tons — an amount equal to 2013’s levels. During the 40 years the IEA has been collecting data, there have only been three other periods of time when atmospheric CO2 levels did not rise: in the early 1980s, 1992, and 2009. However, these years were also associated with global economic instability, and in 2014, the global economy grew by three percent, according to the IEA.
“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,” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said in a statement.