IEA says rise in global greenhouse gas emissions has stopped

Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014.
IEA says rise in global greenhouse gas emissions has stopped

The halt in global emissions is the first in 40 years that was not tied to an economic downturn says the IEA. Global carbon dioxide emissions stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the previous year. The preliminary data from the IEA suggests that efforts to counter climate change be having an even more pronounced effect than previously thought.

The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries. China saw a greater generation of electricity from renewable sources in 2014, particularly with regard to hydropower, solar and wind. In OECD countries, the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions is being achieved through the promotion of sustainable growth, incorporating renewable energy generation and greater energy efficiency.  

“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 has recently named as the next IEA Executive Director, replacing Maria van der Hoeven.

Mr Birol added that the news is both a very 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. Over the 40 years in which the IEA has been collecting data on global greenhouse gas emissions, there has only been three occasions on which emissions stood still or fallen compared to the previous year, specifically the early 1980’s, 1992 and 2009. All these were the product of economic weakness, rather than renewable energy generation and energy efficiency.

“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” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven warned.

More details on the data and analysis will be included in an IEA special report on energy and climate to be released in London on 15th June. The report will provide decision-makers with analysis of national climate pledges in the context of the recent downturn in fossil fuel prices, suggest pragmatic policy measures to advance climate goals without blunting economic growth, and assess adaptation needs, including in the power sectors of China and India. 

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International Energy Agency (IEA)

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