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Global energy-related CO2 emissions are heading for their second largest annual increase ever, the IEA expects. This is linked to an expected growth in global energy demand of 4.6% in 2021. Almost 70% of the expected increase can be attributed to emerging markets and developing economies.
Editorial office / Paris

This is what the International Energy Agency states in the recently published Global Energy Review 2021. The report examines whether the upturn in economic activity is leading to rising CO2 emissions and to what extent new policies aimed at a sustainable recovery are able to curb an upturn in emissions.

More fossil energy

According to the IEA, the demand for fossil energy in particular will increase. Demand for coal alone is expected to increase by 60% more than all renewable energy sources combined, increasing emissions by almost 5% or 1 500 Mt. This projected increase would offset 80% of the decrease in 2020, with emissions ending up only 1.2% (or 400 Mt) below 2019 emission levels.

Despite an expected annual increase of 6.2% in 2021, global oil demand will remain about 3% below 2019 levels. Aviation oil consumption is even expected to remain 20% below 2019 levels, with annual demand more than 30% lower than in 2019.


Coal demand growth is concentrated in Asia. China alone is expected to account for more than 50% of global growth. Coal demand in the United States and the European Union is also recovering, but still remains well below pre-crisis levels, the IEA says.

Of all fossil fuels, natural gas will rise the most from 2019 levels, by 3.2%, driven by rising demand in Asia, the Middle East and Russia. Nearly three-quarters of global demand growth in 2021 will come from industry and buildings.

Electricity demand will increase by 4.5% in 2021, or more than 1 000 TWh. This is almost five times larger than the decrease in 2020, bringing the share of electricity in final energy demand above 20%. Almost 80% of the projected increase in demand in 2021 will take place in emerging markets and developing economies, with China alone accounting for half of the global growth, followed by the United States, the European Union and India.

Renewable energy

Demand for renewables increased by 3% in 2020 and is expected to grow in all major sectors – electricity, heating, industry and transport. The electricity sector leads the way, with renewable energy demand set to increase by more than 8% to 8 300 TWh, the largest annual growth ever in absolute terms.

Read the full report on the International Energy Agency website

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