COVID-19 to cause record emissions fall in 2020: IEA

General |Author: AFP | April 30, 2020, Thursday @ 12:15| 2113 views

Photo taken on April 12, 2012 shows the Masinga hydro-electricity power plant at the Masinga dam, approximately 230 kilometres north of Nairobi, that is part of a series of dams known as the seven-forks dams that are the country's main electricity generators. Only about 18% of Kenyan households have access to power, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, where peak demand for electricity has increased to 1,200MW and is forecasted to reach 15,000MW by 2030. Over-reliance on hydro-generated energy, that supplies 60% of the national requirement, has meant severe gluts in daily supply and expansion countrywide due to changes in climatic patterns that in recent years has seen the eastern Africa region suffer catastrophic droughts owing to numerous failed rains. An ambitious windfarm project on the shores of Lake Turkana in the semi-arid north, the biggest project of its kind in Africa, is expected to provide 300MW of low-cost power to the national grid - equivalent to about 20% of the current installed electricity-generating capacity - combined with the expansion of geothermal electricity generation in the Kenyan rift-valley, where there is now a near-term target of about 1,300MW along with the potential of solar energy in Kenya which has hardly been tapped yet, Kenya could become a zero-emission economy in the field of electricity generation over the coming years by some estimates, says the UNEP . (AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA)

(AFP) - COVID-19 is expected to cause global energy emissions to fall a record eight percent this year due to an unprecedented drop in demand for coal, oil and gas, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.

The IEA's Global Energy Review was based on an analysis of electricity demand over more than 100 days, during which much of the world has entered lockdown in a bid to control the pandemic.

It predicted that global energy demand would fall six percent in 2020 -- seven times more than during the 2008 financial crisis and the biggest year-on-year drop since World War II.

This would be the equivalent of losing the entire energy demand of India, the world's third-largest power consumer, the IEA said.

Advanced economies are set to see the biggest declines, with demand in the United States down nine percent and an 11-percent fall in the European Union likely.

"This is a historic shock to the entire energy world," said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

"The plunge in demand for nearly all major fuels is staggering, especially for coal, oil and gas."

With consumption falling, the IEA said it had noticed a "major shift" to low-carbon sources of power, such as wind and solar, which are set to make up 40 percent of global electricity generation -- six percentage points more than coal.

Coal and natural gas "are finding themselves increasingly squeezed between low overall power demand and increasing output from renewables," the report said.

Natural gas demand is set to fall five percent in 2020 after a decade of uninterrupted growth.

Following a 2018 peak, coal-fired power generation is set to fall more than 10 percent this year.

Overall, energy-related carbon emissions are set to fall by almost eight percent, reaching their lowest level since 2010.

If this plays out this would be by far the largest annual decrease on record, more than six times larger than the 2009 fall precipitated by the global financial crisis.

The United Nations says CO2 emissions must fall by 7.6 percent annually through to 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 Farenheit), the most ambitious temperature cap of the Paris climate accord.

Until COVID-19 struck, emissions had been rising year on year.

Reacting to the IEA's report, Richard Black, Director of the Britain-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said how the global economy recovered in the long term from the pandemic would be key for the climate.

"In recent weeks there have been robust promises from national leaders and calls from businesses for post-coronavirus stimulus packages to accelerate the clean energy transition," Black said.

"If these pledges come good... then the crisis could come to be seen as a genuine turning point for world energy markets."

© Agence France-Presse

Tags: health, virus, climate, energy, emissions, environment


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