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Fossil fuel emissions close to pre-Covid levels -IEA

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Tuesday 02 Mar 2021

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - Global fossil fuel emissions were 2% higher in December 2020 than in the same month of 2019, revealed the latest report from the International Energy Agency.
The IEA warned that the surge was driven by the economic rebound that ensued after the pandemic hit early in 2020 and the absence of clean energy policies to ensure a greener return to business.

Nonetheless, the 2020 Covid-19 crisis triggered the largest annual drop in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since the Second World War, according to IEA data released on Tuesday.

Global CO2 emissions hit a low in April but had since then rebounded strongly. Global emissions plunged by almost 2bn tonnes in 2020 and most of this - around 1bn, which is more than the annual emissions of Japan - was due to lower use of oil for road transport and aviation.

"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," said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director.

"In March 2020, the IEA urged governments to put clean energy at the heart of their economic stimulus plans to ensure a sustainable recovery. But our numbers show we are returning to carbon-intensive business-as-usual. This year is pivotal for international climate action - and it began with high hopes - but these latest numbers are a sharp reminder of the immense challenge we face in rapidly transforming the global energy system.

"If current expectations for a global economic rebound this year are confirmed - and in the absence of major policy changes in the world's largest economies - global emissions are likely to increase in 2021," Birol said.

Birol added that there was still hope for the future as China has set an ambitious carbon-neutrality target; the new US administration had rejoined the Paris Agreement and was putting climate at the heart of its policy-making; the European Union is pushing ahead with its Green Deal and sustainable recovery plans; India's success with renewables could transform its energy future; and the United Kingdom was building global momentum toward stronger climate action at COP26 in November.

The IEA is set to publish on 18 May the world's first comprehensive roadmap for the energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.