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Climate: 2020 energy-related CO2 emissions decline to 2011 levels

14 May 2020 Steven Knell, Ph.D. Susan Farrell

Key findings:

IHS Markit is projecting the largest drop in energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in history in 2020, back to levels not seen since 2011.

  • A decline of nearly 7% is expected in 2020 compared with 2019, based on a conservative estimate of Global GDP decline of 3%.
  • The 2020 emissions volume decline, 2.6 Gigatons (Gt), represents an amount greater than the additions of the prior eight years combined.
  • Using interim GDP and fuel price forecasts from April, the Energy and Climate Scenarios team has developed provisional guidance on how the energy transition is expected to progress through 2023 in the Rivalry (base case) scenario.
  • Energy-related emissions are projected to rise in 2021 along with GDP and move slowly back to trend after 2023. However, total levels projected by 2025 in our 2019 estimates will now not be reached until 2050.
  • The depth and duration of the economic lockdowns opened a view to the potential of clean air and less congestion. Although most initial stimulus is to get people back to work in existing industries, there is increased potential for the populous and investors to push for future ties to low-carbon investment. Especially as the physical impacts of a changing climate will continue to be evident, quite irrespective of a pandemic.

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