The U.S. has found the secret to reducing carbon emissions: Have a deep recession and a disappointing recovery, and the rest will take care of itself.

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases fell 6 percent in 2009 and were at their lowest level since 1995, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which produces the annual inventory of emissions. The agency attributed the decline to the economic slowdown and a shift from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas to produce electricity as the price of natural gas has declined.

Overall emissions in the United States have risen by 7.4 percent since 1990, an annual average of 0.4 percent, the agency reported. Even as the American population has grown, emissions per capita have fallen, and the rate of emissions relative to the size of the economy -- sometimes known as carbon intensity -- has dropped even more sharply.

Read the full story at New York Times.