After a decade of rapid growth in global CO2 emissions, spurred on by increases in China which offset declines in the US and Europe thanks to natural gas, increases have leveled off: 2012 saw only 0.8%, 2013 was 1.5% and 2014 was 0.5%. Last year, the world's economy continued to grow by 3% overall and even China's unrelenting emissions were held in check.
To some, that means the decoupling of CO2 emissions from global economic growth. To others, it signals that the developed world has given up on manufacturing. Instead, a country like India can increase its emissions by 7.8% and became the fourth largest emitter globally while claiming the same developing nation status China and Mexico do.
In 2014, despite an overall increase of 1.4% in the GDP for the European Union, the EU decreased its CO2 emissions by 5.4% with respect to 2013. They did that by buying natural gas and fossil fuels while subsidizing solar panels. Total EU CO2 emissions are now 23% below the 1990 level, thanks to a milder winter, efficiencies in transportation that required less oil and, some claim, due to carbon trading schemes.
Significant reductions in national CO2 emissions were recorded for Slovakia (10.6%), the United Kingdom (9.0%), Denmark (8.8%), France (8.4%), Italy (7.7%), Finland (6.9%), Greece (6.3%), Austria (6.0%), Germany (5.6%), the Netherlands (5.3%), Portugal (3.6%) and Poland (3.4%). Of the 28 EU Member States, only Bulgaria and Cyprus increased their emissions, by 6.9% and 0.5%, respectively.
For the first time, the EU's share of global CO2 emissions fell below 10%. Responsible for 9.6% of the global emissions, the EU is still the third largest emitter globally after China (30%) and the United States (15%).
Japan (-2.6%) Russia (-1.5%), and Australia (- 2.1%) also reduced their emissions. The total emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes amounted to 35.7 billion tons CO2 in 2014, compared to 35.3 billion tons in 2013.