IEA warns 2021 will see the second largest rise in global energy-related emissions ever

Driven by coal use for electricity generation, carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise by 1.5 billion tonnes

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) has today warned global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are heading for their second-biggest annual increase in history.

In its newly published flagship report, the Paris-based intergovernmental organisation estimates emissions are set to jump by 1.5 gigatonnes in 2021, led by a rebound in coal demand mainly from the power sector.

Coal demand VS renewables 

The figures show coal demand alone is projected to swell by 60% more than all renewables combined.

The analysis suggests more than 80% of coal demand growth will be driven by Asia, with China alone forecast to account for more than 50% of the global growth.

Coal demand in the US and Europe is also predicted to rebound but will stay below pre-pandemic levels, IEA suggests.

Electricity demand to increase five times more than the decline in 2020

The IEA also predicts electricity demand is due to increase by 4.5% this year – that is almost five times greater than the decline recorded last year.

The lion’s share of this growth again is expected to be seen in China, accounting for half of the global growth while demand in advanced economies is expected to remain below 2019 levels.

There is, however, a glimpse of hope as renewables are set to provide more than half of the increase in global electricity supply this year, the analysis suggests.

Renewable energy sources’ share of electricity generation is predicted to soar to almost 30%, their highest share since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

That is compared to less than 27% share renewables had in 2019.

Long recovery for oil demand 

The report also estimates global oil demand will take longer to recover as it is forecast to remain around 3% below 2019 levels.

The use of oil for road transport is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels before the end of 2021 while oil demand for aviation is expected to remain 20% below 2019 levels even in December.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said: “This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate.

“Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022.”

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