People wearing face masks walk on the Bir-Hakeim Bridge near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on March 27, 2020, on the 11th day of a lockdown in France aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
JOEL SAGET | AFP via Getty Images
The chief executive of energy giant BP said Wednesday that to get to net zero by 2050, the world would need to see lockdown-like reductions in carbon emissions every other year for the next 25 years.
In the London-based oil and gas giant’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy, the group said some aspects of global energy trends prior to the coronavirus pandemic had been “encouraging.”
It noted the continued strong growth of renewable energy, led by wind and solar power, which increased by a record amount to account for over 40% of the growth in primary energy last year.
At the same time, coal consumption fell for the fourth time in six years, with its share in the global energy mix seen at its lowest level for 16 years.
But, BP CEO Bernard Looney said in the report that other aspects of the energy system “continued to give cause for concern.”
That’s because coal, one of the dirtiest forms of energy production, remains the single largest source of power generation, accounting for more than one-third of global power in 2019.
Comparatively, renewable energy provides only 10% of global power, according to the report, and would need to grow even more strongly over the coming years to decarbonize the power sector.
“More worrying is the trend for carbon emissions,” Looney said.
Bernard Looney, chief executive officer of upstream for BP Plc, speaks during the 2019 CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
F. Carter Smith | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said the world must cut carbon emissions to reach net zero by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsuis.
Carbon emissions from energy use grew by 0.5% in 2019, according to BP’s analysis, less than half the rate the previous year. In 2018, carbon emissions from energy use expanded by 1.8%.
“The hope was that as the one-off factors boosting carbon emissions in 2018 unwound, carbon emissions would fall significantly. That fall did not happen,” Looney said, noting the average annual growth in carbon emissions through 2018 and 2019 was greater than its 10-year average.
“The disruption to our everyday lives caused by the lockdowns has provided a glimpse of a cleaner, lower carbon world: air quality in many of the world’s most polluted cities has improved; skies have become clearer,” he added.
Global carbon emissions
In April, the International Energy Agency said in its flagship Global Energy Review 2020 that the group expected global carbon emissions to decline by 8%, or almost 2.6 gigatons, when compared to levels seen a decade earlier.
To put that forecast into context, this reduction in global carbon emissions would be the largest ever recorded. The IEA said a fall of 2.6 gigatons would be six times larger than the previous record reduction of 0.4 gigatons in…