This would result in the largest CO drop in the fossil fuel industry2 record emissions in a single year overshadowing the carbon doldrums triggered by the greatest recessions of the past 50 years combined.
Climate experts expected global carbon emissions from fossil fuels and cement production to increase in 2020 from 36.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide last year. Instead, emissions could drop by around 5%, or 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2, at their lowest levels in about a decade.
Dr Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, warned that the sharp drop in emissions from fossil fuels would be seen as a climatic triumph.
“This decline is due to the economic collapse in which thousands of people are losing their livelihoods, not to the government’s good decisions on climate policies,” he said.
“The reason we want to see emissions go down is because we want a more livable planet and happier, healthier people.”
The fossil fuel analysis by Rystad Energy, a Norwegian energy consultancy, found a sharp contraction in GDP and the sudden cessation of flights and driving could cause global demand for oil to fall by more than five times the drop in demand triggered by the global financial crisis. crisis in 2008.
Analysts estimate that crude demand will decrease on average by 11 million barrels of oil per day this year, or 4 billion barrels in total. This alone would reduce 1.8 billion tonnes of CO2 according to Rystad, who would otherwise have contributed to the global climate crisis this year.
Analysts also expected electricity and heavy industry consumption to drop to demand for gas and coal by about 2.3% each, wiping out the carbon emissions of each fossil fuel by 200 tonnes and 500 million tonnes respectively.
Erik Holm Reiso, senior partner at Rystad, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event for the energy markets, which will have a substantial impact on total carbon emissions worldwide.
“The last time demand for oil contracted, during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, demand fell by 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. But Covid-19 could drop demand for oil more than five times. “
The unprecedented drop in demand for oil will be largely due to the global aeronautics industry, he said. Generally, there are approximately 99,700 commercial flights a day, but the suppression of non-essential travel to curb the spread of the virus could reduce air traffic by an average of almost a quarter over the year.
Fewer cars on the road will also reduce demand for gasoline and diesel by 9.4% on average over the year, reducing oil demand in 2020 by 2.6 million barrels of oil per day on average.
Analysts say transportation fuel use may start to pick up in the second half, but demand will be lower than last year.
Energy demand in China, the world’s largest oil importer, is expected to begin to recover next month, four months after the epidemic in Wuhan province. However, it will not return to normal levels until September at the earliest, according to Rystad. This could fuel a slow increase in global energy demand in the second half of 2020, but a recovery to 2019 levels is not expected for this year.
Resio said, “The real question is about the long-term impact of the virus. If we learn that remote working can work, people may start to wonder if we should take long-haul flights to meet people in person. This could change if demand for oil returns to the levels we have seen in previous years. “
However, Birol said that if governments did not take the right steps to include support for clean energy in new economic stimulus packages “then this decline could be easily reversed in the economic rebound” once that Covid-19 will be brought under control.
He said, “These numbers are important and impressive. But they don’t make me happy. For me, it is more important to know what will happen next year and the year after. “