CO2 emissions will rise 4.8% in 2021 from coal

Belchatow (Poland) coal-fired power plant, the largest of its kind in Europe.

Belchatow (Poland) coal-fired power plant, the largest of its kind in Europe.

The carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), which fell by a historic 5.8% last year due to the crisis, will rise 4.8% in 2021 and will touch their peak in 2019 due to the pull of coal in the large emerging countries, such as China and India, much higher than the expansion of renewables.

In a report published this Tuesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights that the 4.5% increase in coal consumption this year it will represent 60% more than the additional contribution of all renewable Together the rise in energy demand, a demand that will rise as a whole by 4.6%, which will more than offset the 4% decline in 2020, and will come in 70% of developing countries.

There the volume reached in 2019 will be surpassed by 3.4%, before the covid, while in the developed world the recovery of this demand will not be total, at least in 2021, and will remain 3% below. “Global carbon emissions will grow 1.5 billion tons this year driven by the use of coal in the electricity sector. It is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is anything but sustainable for our climate,” he stressed the executive director of the IEA, Fatih Birol.

China strengthens as the first CO2 emitter

China alone will account for 55% of the increase in coal consumption worldwide this year and will contribute an additional 500 million tonnes of CO2 (5.1% more), which will be 6% above the 2019 level. In practice, that will mean that with 10.49 gigatons, their relative weight in energy-related emissions of the main greenhouse gas will increase to 31.8% of the total, when in 2019 it represented less than 30%. Far behind will be USA, which with 13.5% of CO2 reduces its share for another year, as does the European Union, and even more sharply, to 7.3%. Further back, but on the heels of the Twenty-seven, emissions from India – another major coal consumer, such as China – will soar 9.3% in one year to 2.35 gigatons, 7.1% of the world as a whole.

Coal is the true black hole of global warming and the main factor that marks its evolution is the demand for electricity in China: the power plants in that country that use coal to generate electricity account for around a third of the consumption of this mineral worldwide.

New record for renewables

The renewable energy they had been the only ones that had managed to avoid declines in 2020 in the biggest recession of modern times, with an increase of 3% thanks to their increasingly competitiveness in the production of electricity against other sources. This year, this dynamic will accelerate with an expansion in the electricity sector that will allow renewables approach 30% of electricity production, compared to 27% in 2019.

China will lead the new renewable electricity capacities, with half of the world as a whole, and if the other large emerging economies and developing countries are added they will add almost 80%.

In absolute terms, wind power will be the one that will contribute the most to the expansion of these capacities, with a progression of 275 terawatt hours and 17% in year-on-year terms. Solar photovoltaic will rise with 154 terawatt hours, 18%.

Aviation weighs on oil consumption

Oil demand plunged 8.8% in 2020 due to travel restriction measures to avoid corinavirus infections, since transport absorbs around 60% of crude oil.

The improvement in the economic situation will be the vector of a partial recovery of 6% in 2021 that will maintain the global demand for Petroleum 3.2% below 2019 levels.

This is explained by the maintenance of movement restrictions, which mainly affect aviation, whose activity in December is expected to continue to be 20% lower than it was two years earlier.

On the contrary, the consumption of natural gas will rise 3.2% this year and will leave behind the losses of 1.9% in 2020.


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