Home Financial Record Energy crisis paves the way for record global carbon emissions

Energy crisis paves the way for record global carbon emissions

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(Bloomberg) – The energy crisis, coming winter conditions and the release of pent-up pandemic demand have caused countries to scramble to store fossil fuels, a move that portends a rebound in global carbon dioxide emissions this year .

The trajectory poses a new threat to the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5 ° Celsius. China, India and other developing economies are boosting demand for coal, but even the United States is on the verge of increasing its consumption of the dirtiest fossil fuel in nearly a decade, forecast shows of the International Energy Agency.

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Global CO2 emissions peaked just before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, then recorded in 2020 the largest annual decline since at least 1965, according to data from BP Plc. Greenhouse gas emissions this year through August are only 1% lower compared to the same period in 2019, according to Carbon Monitor, an emissions monitoring group.

The record-breaking emissions forecast is a poor backdrop for the COP26 climate talks to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November. The United Nations is urging countries to submit more ambitious emissions plans by the start of talks, and officials from nearly 200 countries are expected to meet for the fortnight of negotiations.

Whether emissions reach new heights will likely depend on the weather, said Steven J. Davis, professor at the University of California, Irvine, and co-head of Carbon Monitor. “The fossil fuels used to heat buildings could quickly add up to that 1% if it is cold. “

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The energy crisis was concentrated in the electricity generation sector. Shortages of natural gas and electricity have been particularly acute in China and the United Kingdom. .

But in many places, CO2 emissions from most major sources are expected to be lower than in 2019, as coal-fired power plants close and more solar and wind power is put into operation. Emissions in the European Union and the UK in the first eight months of this year are down 4.7% from the same period in 2019, according to the group, which bases its estimates on the production of electricity, industrial activity, land transport, domestic and international aviation and residential demand. In the United States, they are down 3.5%.

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Another factor that could boost emissions growth is the new skepticism about renewables in the face of the energy crisis. The disruptions of recent weeks have sparked debate over the impact of the global transition to cleaner energy. While some see evidence of the intermittence of wind and solar power, others see an equivalent if not greater vulnerability to extreme price swings and volatility triggered by disruptions in fossil fuel supply chains. and dependence on petro-states like Russia.

“My concern is that there is a growing misperception that the current energy crisis is caused by renewable energy, or policies favoring renewable energy,” BloombergNEF analyst Ali Izadi-Najafabadi said. “The rational response to rising raw material prices for fossil fuels as well as rising emissions would be to accelerate the shift to renewables. “

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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