Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are on course to surge by 1.5 billion tons, or 5%, this year, marking the second-largest rise in history by reversing most of last year's record drop of about 6% caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new International Energy Agency report revealed Tuesday.
The increase in global CO2 emissions is driven by strong demand growth for coal in power generation as a result of the economic recovery, the IEA's Global Energy Review 2021 report said.
Coal demand, as the key driver of the rise in emissions, is estimated to grow by 4.5%, surpassing 2019 levels and approaching its all-time peak from 2014, with the electricity sector accounting for 75% of the increase.
Thus, the report showed that emissions would reach 33 billion tons this year.
"Global carbon emissions are set to jump by 1.5 billion tons this year – driven by the resurgence of coal use in the power sector," the IEA's Executive Director, Fatih Birol, was quoted as saying.
This would be the biggest annual rise in emissions since 2010, during the carbon-intensive recovery from the global financial crisis, according to the report.
"This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate," Birol said.
He called on governments around the world to rapidly start cutting emissions to avoid facing an even worse situation in 2022.
“…The Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US President Joe Biden this week is a critical moment to commit to clear and immediate action ahead of COP26 in Glasgow," Birol said.
-Asia responsible for over 80% of coal demand growth
According to the IEA's findings, global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6% in 2021, led by emerging markets and developing economies pushing it above its 2019 level.
According to the report, demand for all fossil fuels is on course to grow significantly in 2021, with both coal and gas set to rise above their 2019 levels.
Asia will be responsible for more than 80% of the projected growth in coal demand this year, led by China. Coal consumption in the US and the European Union is also on course to increase but will remain below pre-crisis levels, the report showed.
Oil is also rebounding strongly but is expected to stay below its 2019 peak, as the aviation sector, which has come to a halt since the beginning of the pandemic due to the lockdown measures, remains under pressure, the report said.
-Record year in renewables output
The expected rise in coal consumption dwarfs that of renewables by almost 60% although demand for renewables accelerated.
Electricity generation from renewables is forecast to leap by over 8% this year, accounting for more than half of the increase in overall electricity supply worldwide.
Solar and wind will make the biggest contribution to that growth by rising 18%, or by 145 terawatt-hours, and 17%, or by 275 terawatt-hours, respectively to mark the largest annual increase in history.
According to the report, renewables are set to provide 30% of electricity generation worldwide this year, recording the biggest share of the power mix since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and up from less than 27% in 2019.
China is expected to account for almost half of the global increase in electricity generation from renewables, followed by the US, the European Union and India.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya and Gulsen Cagatay