Throughout the 20th century, the global economy was fueled by burning coal to run factories and power plants, and burning oil to move planes, trains and automobiles. The more coal and oil countries burned — and the more planet-warming carbon dioxide they emitted — the higher the economic growth.
And so it seemed logical that any policy to reduce emissions would also push countries into economic decline.
Now there are signs that G.D.P. growth and carbon emissions need not rise in tandem, and that the era of decoupling could be starting. Last year, for the first time in the 40 years since both metrics have been recorded, a study by the International Energy Agency found that in 2014, as global G.D.P. grew, global carbon emissions leveled off.