Global carbon emissions are set to jump by five percent marking the largest single increase in more than a decade as the economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic is “anything but sustainable” for the climate.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published on Tuesday its annual Global Energy Review predicting that carbon dioxide emissions would rise to 33 billion tonnes this year, up 1.5 billion tonnes from 2020 levels.“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.
Birol called the Leaders Summit on Climate to be hosted by US President Joe Biden on Thursday and Friday a critical moment for nations to pledge immediate actions before the UN Climate Change Conference set for November in Glasgow.
“Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022,” said Birol.
In early March, the IEA’s chief stressed that the level of carbon emissions in December was higher than the same month the previous year as economies started reopening following coronavirus lockdowns, a figure that the IEA’s chief said was a “stark warning” to leaders around the world.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries on Monday to back up their commitments to fight climate change with “concrete immediate action”, including making as their “absolute priority” that no more coal power plants will be built.
Last year, when power use dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 5.8 percent to 31.5 billion tonnes, after peaking in 2019 at 33.4 billion tonnes.
The IEA’s annual review analysed the latest national data from around the world, economic growth trends and new energy projects that are set to come into action.
Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 percent in 2021, led by developing economies, pushing it above 2019 levels, the report said.
Demand for all fossil fuels is on course to grow in 2021, with both coal and gas set to rise above 2019 levels.
The expected rise in coal use dwarves that of renewables by almost 60 percent, despite accelerating demand for solar, wind and hydro power. More than 80 percent of the projected growth in coal demand in 2021 is set to come from Asia, led by China.
Coal use in the US and the European Union is also on course to increase but will remain well below pre-crisis levels, the IEA said.
The IEA expects both solar and wind to post their largest annual rises ever, at around 17 percent.
It expects renewables will provide 30 percent of electricity generation worldwide in 2021, their biggest share ever and up from less than 27 percent in 2019.
China is expected to account for almost half of that increase.