With many countries under strict lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell nearly 6% in 2020 — and by 10% in the United States — a decline “without precedent in human history,” according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.
“This is the equivalent of removing all of the European Union’s emissions from the global total,” the agency said.
Slumping road transport and air travel sent demand for oil plunging 8.6%, accounting for more than half the drop in global emissions, IEA stated in its data analysis, “Global Energy Review: CO2 Emissions in 2020.”
In China, however, which was the first major economy to emerge from the pandemic, emissions were already showing significant year-over-year increases by the end of 2020. In December 2020, emissions in China were 7% higher than December 2019.
Globally, emissions were 2% higher in December 2020 than the same month in 2019.
The recovery of global transport activity is seen as an important indicator for the rebound in global oil demand and, consequently, global CO2 emissions.
The IEA report concluded: “While 2020 marked the largest absolute decline in global CO2 emissions in history, the evidence of a rapid rebound in energy demand and emissions in many economies underscores the risk that CO2 emissions will increase significantly this year (2021).”