COVID-19 causes largest fall in emissions since WWII

A significant drop in energy consumption due to COVID-19 has led to the largest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions since World War II, according to consultancy firm Capgemini.


In a new report, Capgemini said that it expects global energy sector emissions to fall by 7-8% this year as a result of mobility restrictions and industrial slowdowns.

This is up sharply from the 0.4% reduction in energy emissions recorded in 2019, however, the researchers warned that this is likely to be temporary.

“Emissions will likely rise again as the world recovers from the pandemic,” said Colette Lewiner, energy and utilities senior advisor at Capgemini.

“By way of illustration, it would take a similar restriction, every year for the next 10 years, to get on the right environmental trajectory, which is of course unviable. Profound changes are needed to reach climate change objectives.”

The report shows that energy demand growth was slowing even before COVID-19 lockdowns, with consumption increasing by just 0.7% last year, compared to 2.2% in 2018.

Renewables accounted for more than half of worldwide electricity generation investments, while batteries for electric vehicles and stationary storage costs decreased by 19%. However, the increasing share of intermittent renewables generation has made grid balancing more difficult.

Meanwhile, the EU hopes to reach a share of 12-14% in 2050 for green hydrogen in its energy mix following a €180-470bn investment.

Looking beyond COVID-19, the report also highlights how one-third of the €750bn European recovery fund will be dedicated to sustainability and energy transition projects.

Although describing this as “very good progress”, the researchers warned that execution of those plans will be crucial, and recommend tracking these sustainability funds and reinforcement of the 'green' conditionality for allocation.

Read the full report here:

Image credit: iStock

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