Led by lockdowns and border closures, a sharp decline in fossil fuels entailed a steep drop in global carbon dioxide emissions last year. For Denmark, the trend was mainly fuelled by a heavily hit aviation sector and reduced consumption of oil, natural gas and coal. Overall, the Danish energy consumption fell by 8.5 per cent in 2020 and energy related CO2 emissions dropped by 12.4 per cent.
As the pandemic arrived and the world closed down, a stark decrease in global carbon emissions occurred. It is no news that the global energy consumption fell as international travelling came to a halt and global supply chains were disrupted. But now we get a clearer picture of the actual developments.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 triggered the largest annual drop in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since the Second World War. In Denmark alone, the drop in energy-related emissions amounted to a 12.4 per cent decrease from the national energy consumption, which dropped by 8.5 per cent last year. These are the preliminary findings released by the Danish Energy Agency on 8 April. The official 2020 energy figures will be available toward the end of 2021.
A sharp decline in fossil fuels led the trend
Denmark’s decrease was mainly fuelled by a sharp drop in sales of jet fuels for the domestic and international aviation industry. After years of steadily increasing demands from 2015-2019, sales of jet fuels dropped by 65 per cent in 2020 alone. The same trend was also seen within natural gas and coal, where the consumption dropped by 21 per cent and 14.1 percent, respectively, in 2020, according to the newly released statistics. The consumption of oil products further fell by 13 per cent while consumption of renewable energy rose by 1.3 per cent for the year.
Denmark’s degree of self-sufficiency in energy dropped to 58 per cent in 2020, which means that Danish production of crude oil, natural gas and renewable energy etc. covered 58 per cent of Danish energy consumption. This relatively low degree of self-sufficiency was caused by a 23.3 per cent decline in energy production in 2020 – mainly due to a sharp decline in the production of crude oil and natural gas, while the production of renewable energy etc. increased by 4.3 per cent.
As 2020 progressed, the economic recovery led to a rebound in emissions
Relative to Denmark, greenhouse gas emissions in China for the whole of 2020 increased by 75 million tonnes, or 0.8 per cent. This was mainly a result of China’s rebound from April onwards, as the country was the first major economy to emerge and lift restrictions. In India, emissions rose above 2019 levels from September onwards, and in Brazil emissions saw an increase above 2019 levels throughout the final quarter due to a bounce-back in road transport and demand for oil and gas.
On the contrary, emissions in the United States fell by 10 per cent in 2020. After hitting their lowest levels in the spring, US levels bounced back on a month-to-month basis, whereas emissions in December approached similar levels as seen in December 2019. Overall, global emissions plunged by almost 2 billion tonnes – or 6 per cent – for the whole year.
Danish Energy Agency (in Danish)