Energy experts issue ‘dire warning’ as coal leads pandemic recovery

Rising CO2 emissions in 2021 ‘driven by resurgence of coal use in the power sector’

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2021 file photo, emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Independence, Mo. President Joe Biden faces a vexing task as he convenes a virtual climate summit on Thursday. He is expected to present a nonbinding but symbolic goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will have a tangible impact not only on climate change efforts in the U.S. but throughout the world. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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Energy experts have issued a "dire warning" after releasing a report that shows climate-changing CO2 emissions are on track to rise dramatically in 2021.
Emissions are set to rise by the second-biggest amount in 2021 as the global economy recovers from Covid-19, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
The Global Energy Review report – published on Tuesday ahead of the climate conference organised by US President Joe Biden –points to energy use rises, particularly in China and the US. 
Global CO2 emissions from energy are expected to rise 4.5 per cent this year to 33 billion tonnes, up 1.5 billion tonnes from 2020, the IEA said.

"This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate," said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.
"Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022.

"Global carbon emissions are set to jump by 1.5 billion tonnes this year –driven by the resurgence of coal use in the power sector."
China was the only major economy to see rising coal consumption in 2020 and is set to see consumption rise by 4 per cent in 2021.
In the US, coal demand from the power sector is expected to rebound by 10 per cent from the lows of 2020.

In the EU, where coal-fired electricity generation is disappearing, the IEA said there will still be an increase in coal demand in 2021.
"This is shocking and very disturbing. On the one hand, governments today are saying climate change is their priority," Mr Birol said. "But on the other hand, we are seeing the second biggest emissions rise in history. It is really disappointing."

Of the increase in coal demand, the electricity sector accounts for three-quarters of that. More than four-fifths of the rise in coal demand will come from Asia, led by China.

While the increase in coal use will dwarf that of renewables, electricity generation from renewable sources is still tipped to jump by more than 8 per cent this year.

FILE PHOTO: Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, speaks with the media during the International Energy Forum (IEF) in New Delhi, India, April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain/File Photo

The IEA expects renewables will provide 30 per cent of electricity generation worldwide in 2021, its biggest share and up from less than 27 per cent in 2019. China is expected to account for almost half of that increase.
Mr Birol said the Leaders Summit on Climate, which starts on Thursday, is a critical moment for nations to pledge immediate actions before the UN Climate Change Conference set for November, in Glasgow.
Despite the gloom in the IEA report, Mr Birol expressed some optimism.
"If governments take clear and imminent action, with the amount of cheap clean energy technologies we have, we can transform this disappointment to some good outcomes," he said.

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