After steep drop in early 2020, carbon emissions rebounded by December: IEA

at 6:41 pm
Carbon emission
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New Delhi (NVI): Global carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 5.8 percent in early 2020 as the covid-19 pandemic brought economies to a standstill but rebounded in December 2020 and are on course to rise further, according to a report.

According to a report released by International Energy Agency (IEA), the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 triggered the largest annual drop in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since the Second World War.

Global emissions plunged by almost 2 billion tonnes in 2020, the largest absolute decline in history.

Most of this – around 1 billion tonnes, which is more than the annual emissions of Japan – was due to lower use of oil for road transport and aviation.

However, after hitting a low in April 2020, global emissions rebounded strongly and rose above 2019 levels in December.

As per the data, global emissions were 2 percent, or 60 million tonnes, higher in December 2020 than they were in the same month a year earlier.

Major economies led the resurgence as a pick-up in economic activity pushed energy demand higher and significant policy measures to boost clean energy were lacking.

Many economies are now seeing emissions climbing above pre-crisis levels, the report added.

“The rebound in global carbon emissions towards the end of last year is a stark warning that not enough is being done to accelerate clean energy transitions worldwide,” said Fatih Birol, IEA executive director.

“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,” he added.

The 2020 trends underscore the challenge of curbing emissions while ensuring economic growth and energy security. Amid a growing number of pledges by countries and companies to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, the rebound in emissions shows what is likely to happen if those ambitions are not met with rapid and tangible action.

In India, emissions rose above 2019 levels from September as economic activity improved and restrictions were relaxed.

The report further added that emissions in China for the whole of 2020 increased by 0.8 percent, or 75 million tonnes, from 2019 levels driven by China’s economic recovery over the course of the year.

China was the first major economy to emerge from the pandemic and lift restrictions, prompting its economic activity and emissions to rebound from April onward. China was the only major economy that grew in 2020.

In Brazil, the rebound of road transport activity after the April low drove a recovery in oil demand, while increases in gas demand in the later months of 2020 pushed emissions above 2019 levels throughout the final quarter.

However, emissions in the United States fell by 10% in 2020. But on a monthly basis, after hitting their lowest levels in the spring, they started to bounce back. In December, US emissions were approaching the level seen in the same month in 2019.

As travel and economic activities pick up around the world, oil consumption and its emissions are rising again. The record increase in sales of electric vehicles is insufficient to offset the growth in emissions caused by the uptick in road traffic around the world.

In addition to this, global emissions from the electricity sector dropped by 450 million tonnes in 2020. This resulted partly from lower electricity demand but also from increases in electricity generation by solar PV and wind, IEA noted.

For the world to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, notably of limiting global warming to well below 2 °C, a decline in electricity sector emissions of around 500 million tonnes would need to occur every single year.

Even greater annual drops in emissions from electricity generation would be required to put the world on a path in line with the warming of 1.5 °C.