Will Carbon Emissions Rebound?

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently expanded and published a detailed report, including coverage of energy demand and carbon emissions due to COVID-19. Key takeaways include:

  • Overall global energy demand is down 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020 — countries in full lock-down are experiencing an average 25% decline in energy demand per week and countries in partial lock-down an average 18% decline.
  • The breakdown of energy type and demand shows some promising trends. Coal demand is down 8%, oil demand is down 5%, and oil demand is down 2%. Meanwhile, renewables have seen a growth in demand by 1.5%.

As a result, carbon emissions are expected to decline by 8%, or almost 2.6 gigatonnes, to levels of 10 years ago. This is perhaps one of the positive impacts of COVID-19. In light of the current crisis, we can truly see the effect of renewable energy and its impact. And one thing to remember is that the cost of renewable projects (and energy) decreases as these resources become more available.

However, these emissions reductions should be seen as a cause of COVID-19, not as a permanent change. The IEA does warn that there may be a rebound in emissions, and this rebound could be larger than the decline.

To counteract this potential rebound, companies and investments should look towards cleaner and resilient energy infrastructure. As the US workforce has seen the most unemployment in history, now is the time to create jobs that contribute to climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

This story has been featured in The Impact, an email newsletter that covers the latest news in the renewables and cleantech space. Check it out and subscribe here.

Impact Investment Analyst at One World | Startup Weekend Facilitator | Climate Tech Enthusiast

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