The risk of a rapid rebound in energy-related emissions as economies recover from the pandemic has been highlighted in a major new report.
The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s latest outlook report has forecast that global energy demand will fall by 5% in 2020, the largest peacetime drop on record apart from the Great Depression, and contributing to a 7% drop in energy-related emissions in 2020.
However, although emissions are set to bounce back more slowly than after the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the IEA said the world is still a long way from a sustainable recovery. It said the UK was one of only a handful of countries worldwide where a step-change in clean energy investment has been proposed in recovery plans.
Under one scenario outlined by the IEA based on current policies, global energy demand rebounds to its pre-crisis level in early 2023 and emissions will exceed 2019 levels by 2027. However, if governments and investors step up their clean energy efforts in line with a ‘sustainable development’ scenario, solar and wind would see “spectacular growth” which the IEA said would be hugely encouraging for overcoming the world’s climate challenge.
Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said he did not see clear signs of a peak in oil demand or a rapid decline based on current policy positions.
“The world is far from doing enough to put emissions into a structural decline. We expect that global emissions will bounce back with the rebound of the economy if no large shifts in government policies take place,” warned Birol.
The report also highlights the continuing growth of renewables, particularly solar where the IEA has forecast that deployment of the technology will increase by an average of 13% a year between 2020 and 2030.
“Solar is the new king of global electricity markets,” Birol proclaimed.