Global economies forecast to pour stimulus money into fossil fuels as part of Covid recovery
Carbon dioxide emissions are forecast to jump this year by the second biggest annual rise in history, as global economies pour stimulus cash into fossil fuels in the recovery from the Covid-19 recession.
The leap will be second only to the massive rebound 10 years ago after the financial crisis, and will put climate hopes out of reach unless governments act quickly, the International Energy Agency has warned.
Surging use of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, for electricity is largely driving the emissions rise, especially across Asia but also in the US. Coal’s rebound causes particular concern because it comes despite plunging prices for renewable energy, which is now cheaper than coal.
Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, and one of the world’s leading authorities on energy and climate, said: “This is shocking and very disturbing. On the one hand, governments today are saying climate change is their priority. But on the other hand, we are seeing the second biggest emissions rise in history. It is really disappointing.”
The increase in emissions this year is set to be the second biggest in history, second only to the rebound from the financial crisis
Emissions need to be cut by 45% this decade, if the world is to limit global heating to 1.5C (2.7F), scientists have warned. That means the 2020s must be the decade when the world changes course, before the level of carbon in the atmosphere rises too high to avoid dangerous levels of heating. But the scale of the current emissions rebound from the Covid-19 crisis means “our starting point is definitely not a good one”, said Birol.
Birol compared the current surge of emissions to the financial crisis, when emissions rose by more than 6% in 2010 after countries tried to stimulate their economies through cheap fossil fuel energy. “It seems we are back on course to repeat the same mistakes,” he warned. “I am more disappointed this time than in 2010.”
Emissions plunged by a record 7% globally last year, owing to the lockdowns that followed the Covid-19 outbreak. But by the end of the year, they were already rebounding, and on track to exceed 2019 levels in some areas.
- Underwater Gardens Boost Coral Diversity to Stave Off ‘Biodiversity Meltdown’Corals are the foundation species of tropical reefs worldwide, but stresses ranging from overfishing to pollution to warming oceans are killing corals and degrading the critical ecosystem services they provide.
- ‘Mountain’ of electronic waste from this year alone will weigh as much as Great Wall of China, experts warnResearchers blame shorter product lifecycles and limited repair options for boom in unused devices being discarded
- California is banning gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and weed trimmersGov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Saturday to ban gas-powered lawn equipment as early as 2024.
- Google’s latest 3D animals are endangered species from Sweden, including the arctic foxIn partnership with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Google has launched a new collection of its popular 3D animals that includes five endangered species, including the arctic fox.
- Alaska snow crab harvest slashed by nearly 90% after population crash in a warming Bering SeaThe Alaska Department of Fish and Game set the 2022 snow crab harvest at the lowest level in more than 40 years, a move to protect populations that appear to have crashed during a period of higher temperatures in the Bering Sea.