COVID-19 to slash global emissions by record 8%

30th April 2020


Climate change istock 1045981944

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Energy ,
  • Fossil fuels ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Global

Author

Rodrigo Ramos De Melo

The coronavirus crisis represents the biggest shock to the global energy system in more than seven decades, and will see carbon emissions fall by almost 8% this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said today.

In a new report, the IEA also forecasts energy demand to fall by 6% in 2020 – seven times the decline recorded after the 2008 financial crash, and equivalent to losing the entire energy demand of India.

Advanced economies are expected to see the biggest declines, with demand set to fall by 9% in the US, and by 11% in the EU, although this depends on the duration and stringency of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The IEA found that each month of worldwide lockdown at the levels seen in early April reduces annual global energy demand by about 1.5%.

“This is a historic shock to the entire energy world,“ said IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol. “Amid today's unparalleled health and economic crises, the plunge in demand for nearly all major fuels is staggering, especially for coal, oil and gas.

“Only renewables are holding up during the previously unheard-of slump in electricity use. It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts, but the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before.“

The report includes analysis of more than 100 days of real data on the impact of coronavirus so far this year.

It shows that full lockdowns have pushed down electricity demand by 20% or more, and forecasts global demand to decline by 5% in 2020 – the largest drop since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

At the same time, lockdown measures are driving a major shift towards low-carbon sources of electricity including wind, solar PV, hydropower and nuclear.

After overtaking coal for the first time ever in 2019, the report predicts low-carbon sources to extend their lead this year to reach 40% of global electricity generation – six percentage points ahead of coal.

The combined share of gas and coal in the global power mix is set to drop by 3% in 2020 to a level not seen since 2001.

In total, global energy-related CO2 emissions are forecast to reach their lowest level since 2010, representing the largest decrease ever recorded, although the IEA warned against early celebrations.

“Resulting from premature deaths and economic trauma around the world, the historic decline in global emissions is absolutely nothing to cheer,“ said Dr Birol. “If the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis is anything to go by, we are likely to soon see a sharp rebound in emissions as economic conditions improve.

“But governments can learn from that experience by putting clean energy technologies – renewables, efficiency, batteries, hydrogen and carbon capture – at the heart of their plans for economic recovery.“

Image credit: iStock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

How much is too much?

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Ben Goodwin reflects on policy, practice and advocacy over the past year

2nd April 2024

Read more

A hangover from EU legislation, requirements on the need for consideration of nutrient neutrality for developments on many protected sites in England were nearly removed from the planning system in 2023.

2nd April 2024

Read more

It’s well recognised that the public sector has the opportunity to work towards a national net-zero landscape that goes well beyond improving on its own performance; it can also influence through procurement and can direct through policy.

19th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close