Global carbon emissions have stopped rising for the first time in 40 years

18 Mar 2015

For the first time in 40 years, the amount of carbon emissions has not risen on the previous year despite signs of economic growth in many countries across the world, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Based off its most recent findings for 2014, the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions reached an estimated total of 32.3bn tonnes, the exact same estimate given for 2013, which might indicate that efforts to curb the burning of fossil fuels and environmentally harmful practices may be working better than previously thought.

From its investigations, the IEA pinpointed the rapidly changing energy dynamic in China and countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the former of which is now fast becoming the biggest producer of renewable energy in the world, particularly with solar energy, where it was revealed it is to build one of the world’s largest solar farms in the north-west of the country.

The IEA has been gathering data on carbon emissions for 40 years and from its findings, there has only been three times in its history that carbon emissions have remained steady or dropped which, until now, had all been attributed to weakened economies following a crash in the 1980s, 1992 and 2009.

And yet, in 2014, the world’s economy grew by about 4pc to buck the trend in what might be a turning point in the effort to tackle man-made climate change.

“This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one,” said IEA chief economist Fatih 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.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic