Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are on course to surge by 1.5 billion tonnes in 2021 - the second-largest increase in history - reversing most of last year's decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report shows. This will be the biggest annual rise in emissions since 2010 during the carbon-intensive recovery from the global financial crisis.


  1. The IEA's Global Energy Review 2021 estimates that CO2 emissions will increase by almost 5 per cent this year to 33 billion tonnes, based on the latest national data from around the world as well as real-time analysis of economic growth trends and new energy projects that are set to come online.
  2. The key driver is coal demand which is set to grow by 4.5 per cent, surpassing its 2019 level and approaching its all-time peak from 2014, with the electricity sector accounting for three-quarters of this increase.
  3. Global carbon emissions are set to jump by 1.5 billion tonnes this year - driven by the resurgence of coal use in the power sector. This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate.
  4. Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 per cent in 2021 - led by emerging markets and developing economies - pushing it above its 2019 level. Demand for all fossil fuels is on course to grow significantly in 2021 with both coal and gas set to rise above their 2019 levels.
  5. Oil is also rebounding strongly but is expected to stay below its 2019 peak as the aviation sector remains under pressure.
  6. Electricity generation from renewables is set to leap by over 8 per cent in 2021, accounting for more than half of the increase in overall electricity supply worldwide.
  7. The biggest contribution to that growth comes from solar and wind, which are on track for their largest annual rise in history.
  8. Electricity generation from wind is projected to grow by 275 terawatt-hours or around 17 per cent from last year. Electricity generation from solar PV is expected to increase by 145 terawatt-hours, up almost 18 per cent from last year.
  9. Their combined output is on track to reach more than 2800 terawatt-hours in 2021.