New data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that global emissions have rebounded to pre-Covid levels.

Whilst the pandemic led to the largest ever drop since the Second World War, rates are increasing at alarming rates. In December, emissions were 2% higher than a year earlier worldwide, however, in China rates surged 7% as the country reopened.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA executive director, commented on the data: “The rebound in global carbon emissions toward the end of last year is a stark warning that not enough is being done to accelerate clean energy transitions worldwide.”

“If governments don’t move quickly with the right energy policies, this could put at risk the world’s historic opportunity to make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions.”

“In March 2020, the IEA urged governments to put clean energy at the heart of their economic stimulus plans to ensure a sustainable recovery. But our numbers show we are returning to carbon-intensive business-as-usual.

“This year is pivotal for international climate action – and it began with high hopes – but these latest numbers are a sharp reminder of the immense challenge we face in rapidly transforming the global energy system.”

“If current expectations for a global economic rebound this year are confirmed – and in the absence of major policy changes in the world’s largest economies – global emissions are likely to increase in 2021,” Birol added.

Many economies are now seeing emissions climbing above pre-crisis levels as restrictions are relaxed and countries open economies again.