Global carbon dioxide emissions rebounded to highest ever in 2021

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy production reached their highest ever levels in 2021, rising to more than 36 billion tonnes.

Published Wed, Mar 9 2022 4:01 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 5 2022 6:30 PM CDT

The new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) is part of its Global Energy Review, titled "Global Energy Review: CO2 Emissions in 2021".

Global carbon dioxide emissions rebounded to highest ever in 2021 01 |

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide rose by 6% in 2021 to their highest ever level, 36.3 billion tonnes (36.3 Gt, or gigatonnes). The increase in emissions was by more than 2 billion tonnes, marking the largest absolute increase year-to-year, and more than offset the decline in emissions from the previous year attributed to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The recovery of the global economy led to recovering energy demand in 2021. However, factors such as increased natural gas prices led to more coal being burned for energy, despite the largest recorded growth in renewable power generation.

Coal-derived emissions accounted for 40 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions in 2021, hitting a record high of 15.3 billion tonnes. Natural-gas-derived carbon dioxide emissions reached 7.5 billion tonnes, well above 2019 levels. Oil-derived carbon dioxide emissions remained below pre-pandemic levels at 10.7 billion tonnes, owing to a lack of recovery in global transport activity, particularly in aviation.

"With carbon-intensive growth reminiscent of 2010, the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis has not been the sustainable recovery that IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol called for at the onset of the pandemic in 2020," the report writes.

You can read more from the IEA report here.

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