Global energy-related emissions are set to surge by 1.5 billion tonnes this year, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). If proved to be true, the increase would mark the second largest annual increase after 2010, and would erode virtually all of the reductions seen in global carbon emissions last year through Covid-related demand destruction.
The key driver behind these increases is a 4.5% increase in global coal use, taking it above 2019 levels, and close to the all-time highs of 2014. Indeed, demand for all fossil fuels is set to increase significantly this year; gas will exceed 2019 levels, whilst oil demand will increase, but to a lesser extent.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the demand growth is coming from developing economies and growth markets, with more than 80% of the projected growth in 2021 coal demand stemming from Asia, particularly China.
It does show that little has been learnt from the emissions-heavy rebound to the 2008 financial crisis. However, there is a glimmer of hope as China’s Xi Jinping stated during the recent Leaders Summit on Climate that he would “strictly control” the country’s coal-fired power plant construction over the next five years and “phase down” coal consumption in the five years from 2025, but he did not set a new emissions goal.
The IEA’s Executive Director, Fatih Birol, said.
“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate. Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022.”
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