Report: Worldwide Carbon Emissions Fall Despite Economic Growth

In the first calculation of worldwide emission statistics for 1998, the Worldwatch Institute (WWI), a Washington-based environmental research organization, reports that global emissions of carbon from the combustion of fuels fell 0.5% during the year to 6.32 billion tons. The drop is the first since 1993, which reflected the economic collapse in central Europe early in the decade. "But unlike that reduction or the previous decline connected with the oil crises of the 1970s, the latest downturn did not result from a major economic disruption," comments WWI. "Still, it is not yet clear how long-lasting the new trend will be." Last year's decline came in the face of a world economy that grew 2.5% during the year, "undercutting arguments that reducing emissions will damage the economy," WWI points out. In the last two years, the institute adds, the global economy has grown by 6.8% while carbon emissions have held steady, leading to a 6.4% decrease in the amount of carbon emissions required to produce $1,000 of income. WWI attributes the 1998 decline to "improved energy efficiency and from falling coal use, spurred by new efficiency standards and the removal of energy subsidies." Also, notes the institute, much of the year's economic growth came in information technologies and services, sectors that are not major energy users.

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