Global emissions of carbon dioxide are likely to stall and even decline slightly this year, new data suggests.
Global carbon emissions edged up by 0.6 percent last year, compared to 2.4 percent annual growth from 2004-2013, said the study by Britain’s University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project, which compiles data from research institutes worldwide.
In 2015, however, the researchers expect global carbon emissions to decline by 0.6 percent to 35.7 gigatonnes – their central projection from a range of -1.6 percent to +0.5 percent.
“These figures are certainly not typical of the growth trajectory seen since 2000 where the annual growth in emissions was between 2 and 3 percent,” said Corinne Le Quéré, of the UEA and one of the authors of the study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“What we are now seeing is that emissions appear to have stalled and they could even decline slightly in 2015,” she added.
Other organisations have said that world carbon emissions growth stalled last year, after decades of gains.
The report is published as around 190 countries meet in Paris to agree on what will likely be the strongest global climate pact yet to curb emissions.
It is widely acknowledged that current emissions cut pledges will not be enough to prevent the world’s average temperature from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, viewed as a threshold for dangerous and potentially catastrophic changes in the planet’s climate system.
Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford, said the report showed it was possible for the world economy to grow while reducing emissions, but he said in order to stop temperatures rising, emissions need to peak and then be reduced to zero.
Michael Grubb, professor of international energy and climate change policy at University College London, said: “The trend of rapid global emissions growth has been broken: this keeps 2 degrees C in play….There could hardly be better news to help the Paris conference in its final days.”
The UEA and Global Carbon Project said their projection for 2015 is based on available energy consumption data in China and the United States, as well as forecast economic growth for the rest of the world.
“The projected decline (in emissions) is largely down to China’s decreased coal use, driven by its economic adjustment,” Le Quéré added.
China’s emissions have been called into question lately due to difficulties in interpreting its data.
China was still the world’s biggest emitter last year, releasing 9.7 billion tonnes of CO2 but its emissions growth is expected to decline in 2015 by 3.9 percent after rising by 1.2 percent last year and 6.7 percent a year for the previous decade, the report said.
Globally, it is unlikely that emissions have peaked for good because many growing economies still rely on coal for energy generation and emissions reductions in some industrialised countries are still very modest, the study said.