IEA: COVID Hammering Fossil Fuels

May 1, 2020

Fossil fuel companies were already losing in the marketplace.
The corona crisis has drawn a sharper line.


Renewable electricity will be the only source resilient to the biggest global energy shock in 70 years triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the world’s energy watchdog.

The International Energy Agency said the outbreak of Covid-19 would wipe out demand for fossil fuels by prompting a collapse in energy demand seven times greater than the slump caused by the global financial crisis.

In a report, the IEA said the most severe plunge in energy demand since the second world war would trigger multi-decade lows for the world’s consumption of oil, gas and coal while renewable energy continued to grow.

The steady rise of renewable energy combined with the collapse in demand for fossil fuels means clean electricity will play its largest ever role in the global energy system this year, and help erase a decade’s growth of global carbon emissions.

Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said: “The plunge in demand for nearly all major fuels is staggering, especially for coal, oil and gas. Only renewables are holding up during the previously unheard of slump in electricity use.”

Renewable energy is expected to grow by 5% this year, to make up almost 30% of the world’s shrinking demand for electricity. The growth of renewables despite a global crisis could spur fossil fuel companies towards their goals to generate more clean energy, according to Birol, but governments should also include clean energy at the heart of economic stimulus packages to ensure a green recovery.

“It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts,” said Birol. “But the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before.”

The impact of the coronavirus has triggered a crisis for fossil fuel commodities, including the collapse of oil market prices, which turned negative for the first time in the US earlier this month.

Global efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 have led to severe restrictions on travel and the global economy that will cause the biggest drop in global oil demand in 25 years.

Demand for gas is expected to fall by 5%, after a decade of uninterrupted growth. It is the steepest drop since gas became widely used as an energy source in the second half of the previous century.

Coal demand is forecast to fall by 8% compared with 2019, its largest decline since the end of the second world war.

The Paris-based energy authority used data from every country and across each energy sector to analyse the impact of the pandemic on the global system.

It found that global energy demand was likely to plummet by 6% this year, the equivalent of losing the entire energy demand of India – the world’s third largest energy consumer – or the combined energy demand of France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

The impact of the pandemic on energy use will be more keenly felt in advanced economies where demand is expected to fall by 11% across the EU and 9% across the US.

The collapse of fossil fuel demand could lead global emissions to fall by 8% compared with 2019, a drop six times larger than the record fall after the financial crisis in 2009 to lows not seen in the past decade.

The 3bn tonne drop in carbon dioxide emissions surpasses data commissioned by the Guardian this month that predicted a fall or 2.5 bn tonnes this year, greater than the drop triggered by every financial crash since the second world war combined.

7 Responses to “IEA: COVID Hammering Fossil Fuels”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    While demand for all sources of energy has been hit by the response to coronavirus, solar and wind generators are best placed to weather the crisis

    => Renewables most resilient to Covid-19 lockdown measures, says IEA

  2. Sir Charles Says:

    Pedestrians have taken over city streets, people have almost entirely stopped flying, skies are blue (even in Los Angeles!) for the first time in decades, and global CO2 emissions are on-track to drop by … about 5.5 percent.

    Wait, what? Even with the global economy at a near-standstill, the best analysis suggests that the world is still on track to release 95 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted in a typical year, continuing to heat up the planet and driving climate change even as we’re stuck at home.

    A 5.5-percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions would still be the largest yearly change on record, beating out the financial crisis of 2008 and World War II. But it’s worth wondering: Where do all of those emissions come from? And if stopping most travel and transport isn’t enough to slow down climate change, what will be?

    “I think the main issue is that people focus way, way too much on people’s personal footprints, and whether they fly or not, without really dealing with the structural things that really cause carbon dioxide levels to go up,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist and the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

    => The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?

  3. redskylite Says:

    It’s a hard time for businesses and workers alike, but hopefully some positives have emerged. The substitution of face to face meetings by internet and successful working from home are two ways of reducing journeys, when life get’s back to normal.


    “Telecommuting Could Outlive the Pandemic, Lowering Emissions

    • redskylite Says:

      From Dana Nuccitelli (Yale Climate Connections)

      A leading scientist’s transition from climate science to solutions: How did Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb transition from a principal focus on coral reef studies to being ‘all in’ in pursuit of climate ‘solutions’?

      “Their plan included changing the bank employee default rental car size during travel from intermediate to economy class and reducing travel by using more video conferencing. The plan was quickly implemented and saved the bank money while reducing its carbon footprint.

      Cobb has also taken steps to minimize her own personal carbon footprint. She now bikes to work, composts, and dries clothes on a line, and she has installed solar panels on her home and has become vegetarian. “I just wish I’d started sooner,” she says. “But my hope is that more and more folks will pick up the cause and use their unique talents and passions to advance climate solutions at all scales.”

  4. Sir Charles Says:

    America’s Radioactive Secret

    Oil-and-gas wells produce nearly a trillion gallons of toxic waste a year. An investigation shows how it could be making workers sick and contaminating communities across America

  5. redskylite Says:

    Portugal planning to give it a go . . ‘

    “Portugal plans new hydrogen plant in post-coronavirus “green” future

    Looking to a more environmentally-friendly future after the coronavirus, Portugal is preparing a handful of multi-billion projects including a new hydrogen plant and will revive a delayed solar auction in June, a minister said.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: