The growth in global carbon dioxide emissions stalled in 2014 for the first time in the 40 years, and the International Energy Agency (IEA), which has been tracking it, said the slowdown wasn’t connected to an economic downturn.
The IEA said the news shows promise that economic progress does not necessarily have to be tied to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, as it has been for decades.
“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,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist, said in a statement from the organization.
Global emissions were 32.3 billion metric tons, or the annual emissions of about 6.8 billion American cars, the same volume as 2013. Meanwhile, the world’s economy grew by about 3 percent.
The IEA attributed the carbon stall to shifts that China and major developed economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) undertook last year.
Specifically, China made a conscious push toward more renewable energy, while OECD countries focuses on various efforts toward sustainable growth, like renewables and energy efficiency.
“This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one,” Birol said in the statement.
Birol added that the news should serve to encourage United Nations negotiators this December in Paris when they finalize a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases.