Energy-related emissions have peaked...

...brought forward five years by COVID-19

Global energy demand will only see a modest growth post COVID-19, owing to continuous improvements in energy intensity. By contrast, renewables will continue to grow rapidly, permanently altering the energy mix. Coal use peaked in 2014, crude oil use likely peaked in 2019, and natural gas will peak in 2035. Energy-related emissions are therefore not likely to return to 2019 levels.

Lower emissions in 2020 come at the expense of a pandemic which is exacting a tragic toll on lives and livelihoods. We see a small rebound in global emissions as economies recover, but peak emissions will remain behind us. In 2030, emissions are 10 % lower than our pre-pandemic forecast, and in 2050, energy-related emissions will be at 17Gt CO2, exactly half of the present level. But that is not enough: if we want to be on track towards 1.5°C, we need to repeat this year's 8% emission reduction every year through to 2050.

The post-COVID-19 stimulus and relief packages hold the potential to alter the speed of the transition, but at present they appear to be falling with equal weight on both the fossil and non-fossil sides of the energy mix.