The Covid-10 pandemic might has killed more than 1.17 million people globally, but it will save the world from 2.5 years of energy sector emissions, forecasts a report by research firm BloombergNEF (BNEF). This is due to the sharp fall in energy demand between now and 2050.
According to BNEF’s latest projection of the evolution of the global energy system over the next 30 years, forecasts that emissions from fuel combustion across various sectors surged in 2019 to the peak. As per a study’s findings, the carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) went up to the level that was highest in 3 million years. From there, the emission has dropped by approximately 10% in 2020 as a result of the lockdown induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a study by Nature Communications, during the first six months of this year (January-June), the CO2 emission was 8.8% less as compared to the same period in 2019. This resulted in a total decrease of 1,551 million tonnes. At the height of the first wave of Covid-19 infections, when most of the major countries across the world announced lockdown in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus, emissions around the globe declined by 16.9%.
The ground transportation sector contributed a major chunk in this CO2 emission reduction. With the Work from Home (WfH) restriction imposed, transport sector’s CO2 emissions dropped by 40% worldwide. In comparison, the power and industry sectors contributed less to the emission decline, 22% and 17% respectively. Aviation and shipping sectors too contributed less compared to the ground transport sector. Even the residential sector recorded a marginal 3% drop in emissions. Overall, the long-term buildup of the greenhouse gases remains unaffected despite the emission reduction across the world.
According to Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, the joint secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Covid-19 lockdown across India would result in around 8% drop in the carbon emissions in 2020. According to a study by British journal Nature Climate Change in May 2020, CO2 emissions were down by 17%, or 17 million tonnes, in April 2020 around the world due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The journal also said that CO2 emissions were down 26% in the same month in India.
The Indian government imposed over 2 months of complete lockdown between 25th March and 31st May 2020, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic across the country. The unlock phase commenced since 1st June and still going on resulting in gradual restart of the economic activities across the country.
While the energy emissions has started rising again with the economic recovery and gradual reopening of the economies across the world, but it would never reach the 2019 levels again, as per BNEF’s projection. The research also predicts that from 2027 onwards, the energy sector emission will fall at a rate of 0.7% every year till 2050.
BNEF also says that the Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate the energy transition across the world. This prospect is based on a huge build-out of super-competitive wind and solar power system. The uptick of electric vehicles across the world and improved energy efficiency across the industries will further play key role in this energy transition acceleration.
As the BNEF study also claims, solar and wind energy to account for 56% of global electricity generation by 2050. These two energy sectors combined with the batteries will receive around 80% of the $15.1 trillion investment in the new energy sector over the next 30 years till 2050. BNEF also says that an additional $14 trillion will be invested in the power grid till 2050.
However, despite the acceleration in energy transition and decline in energy demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, energy sector emissions will still result in around 3.3 degree Celsius global temperature rise by 2100.