By Michael Liebreich, Senior Contributor BloombergNEF

At the end of last year, in a comment piece for BloombergNEF entitled Peak Emissions Are Closer Than You Think, I predicted that energy-related CO2 emissions would peak and then drop by around 5% within the next decade. Never before has one of my big predictions been proven quite so right quite so quickly – albeit for entirely unforeseen and tragic reasons. It now looks like emissions could easily drop by 5% or more this year alone as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. At the time of writing, it is hard to divine the full impact Covid-19 will have in the near term. Will emissions bounce back quickly, or will they remain depressed by a sluggish economy for a few years? Longer term, the question is whether changes in policy, technology, business processes and behavior during the crisis prove sticky enough to push 2030 emissions below the 5% fall I predicted just three months ago. And there I think we can be pretty sure the answer is yes.

Let me say up front that I don’t feel particularly comfortable speculating, given the scale of the human tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes. In the last week alone, 11,000 people have died worldwide of Covid-19, nearly 5,000 in Italy alone, and we may only be in the foothills of a catastrophe that could number its victims in the tens of millions. My main concerns right now are humanitarian. Yet speculate about the future we must: there is too much at stake, too much fear, and also too much talk of quick recoveries and oh-so-clever green stimulus programs. How badly is it hitting energy demand? By the International Monetary Fund’s definition – an annual decline in per-capita GDP along with other indicators of economic […]