Carbon dioxide emissions are expected to grow this year after falling dramatically during the pandemic as economies around the globe contracted.
In a report issued Tuesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said emissions of the greenhouse gas would rise by 1.5 billion metric tons, or 5%. While big, the increase is not likely to eclipse the surge seen following the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
After a series of stimulus bills, the U.S. economy is expected to grow rapidly in 2021, with growth forecasts at 6% or higher.
The group said coal would be the largest driver of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. It said demand for coal was expected to grow 4.5% this year. That would be higher than 2019, but below a 2014 peak.
“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said in a prepared statement. “Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022.”
China is the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter and user of coal by far. The U.S. is the world's third-leading user of coal and the second-largest CO2 emitter. Coal demand in the U.S. and European Union is also expected to rise but is seen remaining below pre-pandemic levels.
Most of the new demand, more than 80%, will come from China and other Asian countries, the IEA said.
The report came just ahead of a global climate summit this week that will be hosted by the U.S. Some 40 world leaders are expected to attend.