A report published Monday by the International Energy Agency estimates carbon dioxide emissions tied to the production of energy reached a high of 31.6 gigatons last year.
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said the global average temperature was on pace to increase by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming decades because of the continued use of energy resources like oil and coal.
"Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities," she said in a statement. "But the problem is not going away -- quite the opposite."
The IEA recommends better efficiency for buildings, a general move toward renewable energy resources and the end to fossil fuel subsidies as a way to slow climate change.
The IEA said China recorded the largest increase in CO2 emissions last year, but the pace of increase was slowing. For the United States, meanwhile, its CO2 emissions were down near 1990 levels because of the switch from coal to natural gas.
"Much more can be done to tackle energy-sector emissions without jeopardizing economic growth, an important concern for many governments," van der Hoeven said.