Carbon Emissions To Rise In 2021 By Second Highest Rate In History
Global carbon emissions will surge this year by the second-highest recorded rate in history.
It comes as quite a shock on the surface, especially considering the likes of US President Joe Biden’s pledge to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050 and those under the Paris Agreement agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990.
However, 2021’s dramatic uptick in emissions isn’t so much a prospective investment in fossil fuels; it’s a rebound from the course of the pandemic.
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest Global Energy Review forecasts emissions to surge by 1.5 billion tonnes in 2021, representing a 5% rise – the highest witnessed since the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis, with companies bidding for recovery via cheap fossil fuel energy.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA and a leading authority on energy and climate, told The Guardian, ‘It seems we are back on course to repeat the same mistakes. I am more disappointed this time than in 2010.’
Last year, global carbon emissions fell by 7%, a drop of 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to 34 billion tonnes, as per the Global Carbon Budget report.
The newest report notes, ‘Demand for all fossil fuels is set to grow significantly in 2021. Coal demand alone is projected to increase by 60% more than all renewables combined, underpinning a rise in emissions of almost 5%… this expected increase would reverse 80% of the drop in 2020, with emissions ending up just 1.2% below 2019 emissions levels.’
Global energy demand is also set to increase by 4.6% in 2021, with coal demand on course to soar by 4.5% in 2021, with more than 80% of the growth concentrated in Asia. While use in the EU and US is also expected to surge, it’ll remain below pre-crisis levels.
Birol also told reNews, ‘This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate.’
He added, ‘Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022. The Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US President Joe Biden this week is a critical moment to commit to clear and immediate action ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.’
Nicholas Stern, a climate economist and chair of the Grantham research institute on climate change at the London School of Economics, said, ‘This is a crucial and historic opportunity to build back differently from the polluting ways of the past and in particular to move much more quickly away from coal. A strong and sustainable recovery will come from less coal not more.’
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International Energy Agency