As the pandemic grew in 2020, CO2 emissions from energy production shrank to a 27-year low. There’s a message in that.
Emissions and economic activity go together. The 2020 lockdowns reduced economic activity and reduced energy use. Even at home, where everyone hunkered down, energy consumption was down 6% in 2020. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
In 2020 our transportation use went down – ask an airline executive – and cars stayed in garages. Storefronts closed. Factories slowed down. They got cranked up again in 2021.
We can see where this is going, a return to where we were. Technology does not give us a pass.
We can look for “the largest increase [in emissions] since 2010 when, after the global financial crisis of 2007-09, governments poured cash into carbon-intensive projects in an effort to pull their economies out of recession.” (Source)
The US is not investing in heavy carbon-based power generation. Other countries may be as they need electricity. “Absent significant changes in policy or technology, world energy consumption will grow by nearly 50% between 2020 and 2050.” (Source)
So we are getting back on the energy train (or in the car or plane). Our future is likely our past.