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As World Economy Grows, Will CO2 Emissions Rise Again?

Climate scientists are weighing in with conflicting views on whether global greenhouse gas emissions can continue their decline in the face of continued economic growth.

The International Energy Agency reported [1] earlier this month that emissions held steady in 2014, even though the world economy grew 3%. “The announcement flew in the face of established economic wisdom, which has long assumed that economic growth is inextricably linked to rising fossil fuel consumption and with it, rising climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions,” Climate Central notes.

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“This is a very hopeful sign that we can indeed grow the economy and lower carbon emissions at the same time,” said climate researcher Michael Mann of Penn State University. “For those who say it is impossible, I would say not only is it possible, it appears to be happening already.”

But Stanford earth sciences professor Rob Jackson said the reduction won’t likely continue. “Unfortunately, I don’t expect this to last very long,” he told Magill. “Decoupling CO2 emissions from economic growth is ideal. Unfortunately, in fast-growing economies such as China and India, we’re not there yet, despite this year’s good news.”