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Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have rebounded strongly after an unprecedented decline during the pandemic when energy demand collapsed, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a new report on Tuesday.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting crash in energy demand, especially in the second quarter, resulted in the largest annual drop in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since World War II, the IEA said, but noted that the overall CO2 emissions decline of 6 percent masked large variations, depending on the region and on the time of the year.
Earlier this year, the IEA said that global methane emissions from the oil and gas sector fell by 10 percent annually in 2020, but the industry and policymakers shouldn’t be complacent because the reduction was largely the result of the decline in oil and gas production due to the pandemic shock.
Global emissions of CO2 from the energy sector hit a low for 2020 in April, but by December, those emissions had rebounded strongly to jump above the December 2019 levels, the IEA said today. As per the latest data the IEA has analyzed, global emissions were 60 million tons—or 2 percent—higher in December 2020 than they were in the same month of 2019.
Therefore, the pandemic-driven reduction in global emissions was a short-lived one-off effect of the collapse in energy demand. As major economies rebounded from the slump, energy demand rose while significant policy measures to boost greener energy were lacking, the IEA said.
“Many economies are now seeing emissions climbing above pre-crisis levels,” the international agency said.
“The rebound in global carbon emissions toward the end of last year is a stark warning that not enough is being done to accelerate clean energy transitions worldwide. If governments don’t move quickly with the right energy policies, this could put at risk the world’s historic opportunity to make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions,” the IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol, said.
IEA’s numbers show that the world is returning to “carbon-intensive business-as-usual,” Birol added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
It also gives the lie to claims by the International Energy Agency (IEA), environmental activists and hydrocarbon asset divestment campaigners that the pandemic has accelerated the transition to renewables and brought closer peak oil demand.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London