World may see unprecedented 8% fall in CO2 emissions: IEA | World News - Hindustan Times
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World may see unprecedented 8% fall in CO2 emissions: IEA

Bloomberg | ByBloomberg, Washington
May 01, 2020 04:49 AM IST

The pandemic has infected at least 3.2mn people worldwide and killed more than 229,000. With no drug to treat Covid-19 and a vaccine not expected until at least the end of the year, reducing the interactions between infected people is the only effective way to control the spread.

The coronavirus lockdown will cause the biggest drop in energy demand in history -the equivalent of the entire energy demand of India - with only renewables managing to increase output through the crisis. As people around the world consume less oil, gas and coal, electricity generated from the wind and sun will keep flowing, resulting in an unprecedented 8% decline in global carbon dioxide emissions this year, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

A woman walks at the Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Italy.
A woman walks at the Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Italy.

“The energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a statement released on Thursday.

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The pandemic has infected at least 3.2mn people worldwide and killed more than 229,000. With no drug to treat Covid-19 and a vaccine not expected until at least the end of the year, reducing the interactions between infected people is the only effective way to control the spread.

Those measures, however, have severe impact on economic growth and energy demand. Each month of lockdown on the scale of what’s in place this month reduces annual energy demand by 1.5%, the IEA estimates.

The institution says demand is likely to fall 6% in 2020, which is seven times the scale of the drop suffered in the 2008 financial crisis. Rich countries will show a steeper decline, with the US falling 9% and the EU losing 11%.

While all sources of energy - oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear - will see a decline, renewable energy is likely to be the bright spot. And though emissions will fall drastically, the IEA expects a sharp rebound without government policies pushing for a green recovery.

With fossil-fuel use taking a big hit, it’s no surprise that emissions will fall. An 8% decline is larger than most early estimates, and bigger than what the most ambitious scenario to keep global warming under check demands.

Yet, that decline probably is not enough to hold off further increases in the earth’s temperature or the stock of greenhouse gases that have built up in the atmosphere, the IEA said.

The more ambitious target set under the Paris climate agreement - keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius - will require halving annual global emissions by 2030 and hitting net-zero emissions sometime around the middle of the century. Without deep structural changes, emissions are expected to rise again when economies recover.

“Governments can learn from that experience by putting clean energy technologies at the heart of their plans for economic recovery,” Birol said.

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