PARIS (AP) — Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose slightly in December compared with the same month of 2019, indicating the sharp drop seen due to the pandemic was short-lived.
Figures released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency show emissions from the production and use of oil, gas and coal were 2% higher in December 2020 than a year earlier.
The Paris-based agency said a resurgence in economic activity coupled with a lack of clean energy policies mean many countries are now seeing higher emissions than before the coronavirus outbreak.
Scientists have previously calculated that CO2 emissions fell by 7% during 2020 as people stayed home because of the pandemic. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.
The agency says the rebound in emissions is a stark warning that not enough is being done to accelerate clean energy transitions worldwide.
“If governments don’t move quickly with the right energy policies, this could put at risk the world’s historic opportunity to make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. “In March 2020, the IEA urged governments to put clean energy at the heart of their economic stimulus plans to ensure a sustainable recovery. But our numbers show we are returning to carbon-intensive business-as-usual.”
Birol says this year is pivotal for international climate action, but the latest numbers are a sharp reminder of the immense challenge we face in rapidly transforming the global energy system.