After global CO2 emissions fell sharply at the start of the coronavirus crisis, it was already above the level of 2019 by the end of the year. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 2% more CO2 was emitted in December than in the same month a year earlier. According to the organization, this is caused by economic recovery in large economies, but also by a lack of policy measures to promote the use of clean energy.
According to IEA director Fatih Birol, the increase in CO2 emissions during the coronavirus year is “a warning that not enough is being done worldwide to accelerate the transition to clean energy”. “If governments do not move forward with the right energy policy, then the historic opportunity to make 2019 the peak year in terms of greenhouse gas emissions can be squandered.”Birol points out that 2020 initially offered hope, but according to him the emission figures now show that everyone is going back to normal.
For example, China emitted 0.8 percent more CO2 last year than in 2019 and India emitted more CO2 from September than a year earlier. In Brazil this happened in the closing quarter. CO2 emissions in the United States fell by 10 percent due to the coronavirus crisis, but in December came close to the levels of a year earlier. In the European Union too, CO2 emissions fell by about a tenth.
On an annual basis, around 2 billion tonnes of CO2 were emitted in 2020 compared to a year earlier. About half of this was caused by less traffic on the roads and less aviation. The IEA therefore expects emissions to rise again rapidly once the worst coronavirus restrictions are over. The record increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road is not enough to compensate for this.