New Data Shows that Carbon Emissions can Stabilize or Decrease even with a Growing Economy

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

As of Wednesday, May 16, 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the amount of green house gas emissions remained level for two years in a row. The IEA credits the movement in the USA and China towards using more renewable energy as opposed to coal as a large source of this trend. 

This finding is significant because it occurred during a time where there was a period of economic expansion globally. Historically, it has been theorized that economic expansion is coupled with an increase in carbon emissions. The data that the IEA has collected for the past two years serves to prove that that is not always the case. 

In 2015, China and the USA, the two largest energy emitters in the world, decreased their overall emissions by 1.5% and 2%, respectively. Despite this promising decrease in emissions by the USA and China, developing countries in other parts of Asia and the Middle East increased their amount of emissions, which lead to a "leveling out" of global emissions. 

Photo Credit: Rajmani Sinclair

Photo Credit: Rajmani Sinclair

The IEA has reported on carbon emissions for the past 40 years. In that time, it has cited that there are only three other instances of decreased emissions in the world - in the early 1980s, 1992 and 2009. These periods of decreased emissions correlation with periods of global economic recessions and crisis.

In 2014, global GDP increased by 3.4% and in 2015 it increased by 3.1%. If this trend continues in the coming years, it will show that it is possible for economic growth to happen without an increase in carbon emissions, thanks to alternative energy options. 

Article by: Rajmani Sinclair, May 24, 2016