As the Washington Post notes in this article, the International Energy Agency says that global economic growth has become “decoupled” from greenhouse gas emissions from the use of energy (their largest source) – that is, the economy grew but emissions didn’t.
ADDENDUM: Even as America constructs more buildings, its electricity use falls.
If this is true, and data about global economics as well as global emissions are not always terribly firm, it’s a big deal. We’re going to have to alter at lot of things we like to do in order to battle climate change, so if we can figure out ways to minimize alterations while maximizing effect, that’s good.
The important thing here is that the data is global. New Hampshire decoupled its economy and energy use a while ago, but that’s because a lot of energy-intensive industry moved elsewhere – we continue to indirectly cause it by purchasing the products. Energy use wasn’t really cut, it was just shifted around. When you’re talking about the world as a whole, however, this isn’t a possibility.