The global economy has suffered from the confinement caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But on the environmental level, it would seem that the opposite has happened since this global crisis, which began in 2020, has had quite beneficial impacts for the health of the planet. Indeed, during this period, scientists have noticed a marked decrease in air pollution.
Unfortunately, this positive situation did not last very long. The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on Tuesday March 8 that during the year 2021, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have experienced the largest increase ever recorded. This increase was around 6%, which corresponds to a total emission of 36.3 billion tonnes. This increase of nearly 2 billion tonnes is the largest ever recorded in history and more than offsets the drop induced by the 2020 lockdown.
According to experts, this increase seems linked to a massive use of coal to help the economy rebound from the Covid-19 crisis.
A consequence of the pandemic
For specialists, coal is the first cause behind this considerable increase in CO emissions2. Indeed, in 2021, access to energy has been deteriorated by adverse weather and market conditions, including soaring natural gas prices.
Despite the strong growth in the production of renewable energies, coal has thus continued to be widely used, surely because of the fact that it is less expensive.
China responsible for almost a third of this increase
According to the IEA, China has largely contributed to this increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Between 2019 and 2021, the country has indeed seen an increase in emissions of around 750 million tonnes. Since the start of the pandemic, China has been the only major power to have experienced economic growth in 2020 and 2021.
In 2021 alone, CO emissions2 from China exceeded 11.9 billion tonnes, accounting for 33% of the world total. Over the past two years, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions have largely offset the overall decline recorded in the rest of the world during the same period.