Global emissions fall by 7% in 2020, but rebound likely this year: IEA

Global carbon emissions fell by 7% last year as the COVID-19 crisis dented demand for all energy sources except renewables, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found.

The intergovernmental organisation’s executive director Fatih Birol said that renewables were the only segment of the energy sector showing growth in 2020, with significant increases in the deployment of solar and offshore wind.

“Renewables defeated COVID-19,” he proclaimed as the IEA confirmed plans to publish a roadmap later this year outlining how the global energy sector can reach net zero emissions by 2050.

However, he warned that carbon emissions are likely to rebound this year and called on governments to choose the ‘right’ energy policies to accelerate the clean energy transition while rebuilding their economies from the COVID-19 crisis.

“This year can be a pivotal year,” Birol said. “There is a significant new political alignment on climate, which opens up a new world of possibilities for all of us. Many of the largest economies…committed themselves to a net zero target mid-century in the last few months.

I am certain that the new US administration will join this group of countries, he added.”

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to re-join the Paris agreement when he assumes office this month, effectively reversing Donald Trump’s infamous decision to remove the US from the landmark climate change pact in 2017.