Global emissions rebound forecast for this year

·1 min read

After the pandemic-fuelled historic drop in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, international energy agencies are projecting emissions will ramp up this year.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration released its short-term outlook. The report shows 2020 emissions from its energy sector fell by approximately 11 per cent, but forecasts rises in both 2021 and 2022, as the country’s economy recovers.

Similarly, the International Energy Agency is projecting a rebound in electricity demand in 2021, which it projects will include an increase in the use of the most carbon-intensive energy source: coal.

Climate Action Tracker, an independent international research organization, estimates emissions in Canada dropped 11 to 13 per cent during 2020, but also noted a likely 2021 rebound in its analysis.

Rebounds in energy demand and emissions are a common trend during periods of financial recovery. An IEA report, released in December 2020, however, projected the COVID-19 rebound in electricity demand globally would not be as strong as it was following the 2008 financial crisis.

“Despite a record drop in global emissions (in 2020), the world is far from doing enough to put (emissions) into decisive decline. The economic downturn has temporarily suppressed emissions, but low economic growth is not a low-emissions strategy — it is a strategy that would only serve to further impoverish the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

“Only faster structural changes to the way we produce and consume energy can break the emissions trend for good. Governments have the capacity and the responsibility to take decisive actions to accelerate clean energy transitions and put the world on a path to reaching our climate goals, including net-zero emissions.”

Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press