New Data Suggest Period of Soaring Global Emissions May Have Peaked
Justin Gillis and Chris Buckley
The New York Times
December 7, 2015
LE BOURGET, France — Industrial emissions of greenhouse gases rose only slightly in 2014 and appear to be on track to decline in 2015, according to new data that raise the possibility that a period of rapid global emissions growth may be coming to an end.
The decline of 0.6 percent projected for this year, should it come to pass, would be highly unusual at a time when the global economy is growing. The projection contrasts sharply with emissions growth that averaged 2.4 percent a year during the last decade, and sometimes topped 3 percent.
The new figures were released at the climate conference here by the Global Carbon Project, a collaboration that studies emissions, and published simultaneously in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Past emissions declines have usually been linked to economic distress, such as the global financial panic of 2009 and the Russian economic meltdown of the late 1990s.
The new figures suggest that there is a chance that global emissions have already peaked and may be starting a long-term decline, experts said Monday, which would be an important inflection point for the international effort to limit the risks of global warming.
But the experts with the Global Carbon Project said they did not consider that to be likely.