People ate more electricity this year than before COVID-19. However, there is not enough clean energy to keep up with rising demand, so coal appears. Global electricity demand climbed 5 percent above pre-pandemic levels in the first six months of 2021, according to an analysis published today by London think tank Ember. To meet this demand, electricity grids used more coal, and the power sector’s carbon pollution increased 5 percent compared to the first half of 2019.
“WE BUILD BACK BADLY”
“Catapulting Emissions in 2021 should alarm bells around the globe. “We are not building back better, but we are building back poorly,” Dave Jones, Ember’s global program leader, stated in a statement. “The electricity transition has been happening, but it is not urgent enough: the emissions are moving in the wrong direction.”
China drove 90% of the increase in electricity demand and the majority of the rise in coal consumption. While China is already the biggest carbon emitter globally, that’s been mitigated by the fact that its per capita emissions are less than half that of the US, which is currently the second-biggest climate polluter. Ember’s report also shows that China’s per-capita electricity demand is increasing rapidly. This highlights the importance of China’s emissions reductions for the planet.
Ember did not find any of the 63 countries Ember examined, which accounts for 87 percent of global electricity production, to have a “green recovery.” This is even though they account for only 3% of all the world’s electricity production. Ember considered lower power sector emissions a criterion for “green recovery. “higher electricity demand is a sign of more electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The US was one of the countries that had slightly cleaner electricity sectors than in 2019. However, their electricity demand remained relatively flat. However, their emissions were higher. Expected to increase with increased demand
In the first half of 2021, renewable energy saw a significant growth spurt. Together, solar and wind-generated more than 10% of the world’s electricity. This is more than double their share in 2015 and surpassing the nuclear power plants for the first time this year. However, solar panels and turbines could only meet 57% of the increase in electricity demand. This left coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, to take care of the rest.
CLEAN POWER SYSTEMS ARE ONE OF THE MOST CRUCIAL STEPS
One of the most critical steps in achieving global climate goals is a pure power sector. Countries are working together under the framework of the Paris climate agreement to limit global warming to about 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures, which could significantly alter the damage we’re already beginning to see due to climate change.
According to a recent analysis by the International Energy Agency, Planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector need to fall by 57 percent this decade to meet that goal, regardless of a rise in electricity demand. The Ember analysis suggests that a lot of this reduction could be achieved by eliminating all coal.
Clean power grids may also provide clean transportation, housing, and other building services in the future. Urban planners and policymakers are trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in several ways, including all-electric cars, homes, and buildings. However, the power sector still has a lot of work to ensure that they all have access to clean, carbon-free energy.
The pandemic was at its height last year, and carbon dioxide emissions dropped across all sectors, including electricity, transportation, and other energy-hungry businesses. This has not been enough to stop climate change-fueled disasters such as worsening droughts and wildfires, record-breaking heatwaves, and severe thunderstorms. In the future, CO2 reductions will be achieved through intentional changes in how the world does business. Not because of a pandemic.