Dire warning as CO2 emissions set for second-largest increase of all time

20 Apr 2021

Image: © Андрей Трубицын/Stock.adobe.com

While 2020 saw the largest ever decline in carbon dioxide emissions, a surge in energy demand could see global emissions rise by almost 5pc this year.

Global CO2 emissions are predicted to rise by nearly 5pc in 2021, which would be the second-largest increase in history.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) Global Energy Review 2021, a surge in energy demand means global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are on course to hit 33bn tonnes in 2021.

This would reverse most of the CO2 emissions decline from 2020 – a year that saw the largest ever drop in emissions with a fall of 5.8pc.

‘This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate’

According to the report, global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6pc in 2021, more than offsetting the 4pc contraction in 2020 and pushing demand 0.5pc above 2019 levels.

Demand for fossil fuels is set to grow significantly in 2021 as economies begin to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Coal demand alone is projected to increase by 60pc more than all renewables combined.

‘Dire warning’

The IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol, said global carbon emissions are set to jump by 1.5bn tonnes this year, driven by the resurgence of coal use in the power sector.

“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” he said.

The IEA report also found that electricity demand is heading for its fastest growth in more than a decade, with an expected increase of 4.5pc in 2021.

However, there is good news in the renewables sector as demand for renewable energy grew by 3pc in 2020 and is set to increase again in 2021.

According to the IEA, the share of renewables in electricity generation is projected to increase to almost 30pc in 2021. Within this sector, wind energy is set for the largest increase.

In Ireland, there has been increasing activity within the renewables space in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.

Earlier this month, ESB announced a multibillion-euro programme that aims to deploy a range of renewable technologies in Moneypoint, Co Clare. The project will include a 1,400MW floating windfarm off the coast of Clare and Kerry and will contribute significantly to the Irish Government’s target of a 51pc reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic