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DNV GL claims world has passed peak CO2 emissions

Covid-19 has hastened the decline in global carbon dioxide emissions – with 2019 set to be the year of peak CO2 emissions, according to new research from DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook team. 

The class society is set to publish an updated energy transition report in September and has provided today a glimpse of some of the key findings.

Compared to DNV GL’s pre-pandemic forecast, the amount of energy required by humanity in 2050 will be 8% lower.  Lasting behavioural changes to travel, commuting and working habits will also decrease energy usage and lessen demand for fossil fuels from the transport sector as well as from iron and steel production.

To reach the 1.5 degree Paris target, the planet would need to repeat the decline in emissions it is experiencing in 2020 every year from now on

“We are still at a critical junction. We basically have the technologies to deliver on the Paris ambition, but we need smarter policies to scale these technologies much faster. Covid-19 has caused enormous human suffering, but has at the same time shown us that measures can be implemented fast at scale,” said Remi Eriksen, group president and CEO of DNV GL.  “This is an opportunity that cannot go to waste. Governments and international regulatory institutions must take this opportunity to make a lasting impact on decarbonisation.”

Energy demand from the transport sector will never reach pre-pandemic levels due to the downturn in the aviation sector and because of altered commuting habits as people work from home more, DNV GL is predicting.  In turn, the energy intensive process of iron and steel production will be hit by a reduced demand for office space. 

Even with peak emissions having passed, and flat energy demand through to 2050, the energy  transition is still nowhere near fast enough to deliver on the Paris ambition of keeping global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, DNV GL warned today. To reach the 1.5 degree Paris target, the planet would need to repeat the decline in emissions it is experiencing in 2020 every year from now on.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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