IEA releases report on global carbon dioxide emissions

Global carbon dioxide emissions from energy are on course to see their second-largest increase in history, a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report released today shows. 

IEA’s Global Energy Review forecasts emissions to surge by 1.5 billion tonnes in 2021, reversing most of last year’s decline because of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The key driver is coal demand which is set to grow by 4.5%, surpassing its 2019 level and approaching its all-time peak in 2014. The expected rise in coal use “dwarfs that of renewables” by almost 60% despite accelerating demand for renewables.  

“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. “Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022.” 

The report comes just days before 40 world leaders will come together for a two-day virtual summit on the climate crisis convened by President Joe Biden. At the summit, the US is expected to unveil a stronger emissions target and call for more ambitious carbon-cutting plans from major greenhouse gas emitters such as China and India. Birol called it a “critical moment to commit to clear and immediate action.” 

It is one of several high-level summits taking place before Cop26 in Glasgow in November. The UN climate talks will be a crucial moment for getting the world on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.