CO2 emissions from coal and gas will rebound this year, while those from oil will remain the same compared to 2019

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, during COP26
Europa Press

The global carbon emissions will rise again in 2021 and will be close to the 2019 levels prior to the coronavirus pandemic and, due to fossil sources, coal and gas will rebound against the oil that will remain at similar levels, according to a report by the Global Carbon Project (GCP) presented this Thursday in the framework of the XXVI Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) held in Glasgow (United Kingdom) until November 12.

The report reflects that global carbon emissions will rebound to near-crisis levels and warns that if the 2021 trend continues, "a new increase in emissions levels in 2022 cannot be ruled out," particularly in the sectors of the road transport and aviation, which could return to their pre-pandemic activity caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus.

The researchers consider in their report that the rapid rebound in fossil CO2 emissions as economies recover from the COVI-19 pandemic reinforces the need for a immediate systemic action in response to climate change.

Regarding the different emission sources, the work of the Global Carbon Project states that the fossil carbon emissions were reduced by 5.4% in 2020 due to Covid lockdowns, but the new report forecasts a 4.9% increase this year (from 4.1% to 5.7%) to reach 36.4 billion tons in total.

Specifically, it estimates that emissions from the use of coal in 2021 will exceed the levels of 2019, but still will remain below their all-time high, which was reached in 2014.

In addition, it foresees that emissions from the use of natural gas will exceed the levels of 2019 in 2021 and thus resume the constant trend of increased gas use dating back at least sixty years. For its part, CO2 emissions from oil will continue in 2021 "well below" the 2019 levels.

By countries, lead the issuing countries in the global growth of CO2 emissions of fossil origin as a result of the use of coal in the electricity and industrial sectors of China, apparently driven by the response to the pandemic.

The projection for 2021 follows the long-term background trends of increase in CO2 emissions in the case of India.

Conversely, the biggest decrease of CO2 emissions comes from EU27 and the United States, which are "historically responsible" for most of the emissions accumulated to date. For now, the United States remains the world's largest issuer.

As to Spain, the study states that in 2020 it emitted a total of 208.9 million tons of CO2, that is, 17.2 percent less than in 2019, but in the EU as a whole, emissions are expected to increase by 7.6% in 2021 compared to 2020, reaching 4.2% less than in 2019, representing a total of 2,800 million tons of CO2, the 7% of world emissions.

Those responsible for the study warn that to have at least a 50 percent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C, 1.7 ° C and 2 ° C, the remaining "carbon budget" has been reduced to 420 billion tonnes, 770,000 million tons and 1,270,000 million tons, respectively, which is equivalent to 11, 20 and 32 years with the emission levels of 2021.

Therefore, the researchers point out that reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 It involves reducing total CO2 emissions by 1.4 GtCO2 each year on average, which is comparable to the 1.9 GtCO2 reduction related to the pandemic during 2020.

This, as they analyze, shows "the magnitude of the action required", although at the time the Global Carbon Project insisted that a confinement is not the way to achieve the required emission reduction in the long term.

Finally, the research entity regrets that the rebound in fossil emissions in 2020 represents a "Return to the Pre-Covid-19 Fossil-Based Economy".

On the other hand, global gross emissions due to changes in land use remain high: 14.1 GtCO2 in the last decade. The reduced control capacity and legal enforcement of measures to reduce tropical deforestation in the aftermath of the pandemic has been observed in multiple countries and may be detrimental to reducing emissions.

On the positive side, the Global Carbon Project highlights that the economic disruption of COVID-19 in 2020 appears to have accelerated the transition to renewable energy, since these have maintained their growth until 2020, while fossil fuels have decreased.


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