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  March 17th, 2015 | Written by

CO2 Stable Despite Economic Growth

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It wasn’t that long ago that business practices that favored a healthy bottom line and planet were seen as mutually exclusive, like mixing oil and (ocean) water.

But over the last decade, the success of green industries—those businesses that either act to significantly lighten their carbon footprint or those businesses that help clean up businesses that either can’t or won’t—has shown to be not only responsible but shrewd. After all, it was five years ago that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “green jobs” were growing at a rate four-times as fast as all other industries combined.

Which made last week’s announcement by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that though the world economy grew in 2014, carbon dioxide levels did not, significant yet not shocking. Significant because that marks the first time in the last 40 years that the world economy has expanded without touching off a corresponding level of CO2. Yes, there have been years when CO2 did not increase—early 1980s, 1992 and 2009—but those were years of financial instability.

In 2014, the global economy grew by 3 percent while carbon levels reached 32.2 billion metric tons, an amount equal to 2013 levels. The IEA credited energy companies that were doing more to fight climate change which may sound very magnanimous of them.

That may sound magnanimous of them but that good fight comes at a fair price. As we reported last week, two Chinese industrial chairmen saw their personal wealth ascend to the ranks of billionaires as the worth of their businesses climbed on the assumption that the Chinese have finally become inclined to consider the environmental impact of their industrial growth.

In fact, while the IEA credited the countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for promoting the use of sustainable forms of energy for slowed CO2 growth, it also said commended China’s increased use of renewable resources.