Post-pandemic gas revival may threaten climate change targets

The pandemic recovery might not be all positive, at least not for the environment. Reuters reports that the International Energy Agency has warned that a post-pandemic resurgence in gas demand could threaten a goal of reaching net zero emissions worldwide by 2050. A projected 3.6 percent increase in gas use for 2021 could not only negate the 2020 decline but “even grow further,” according to the IEA.

Demand is expected to taper off to 1.7 percent between 2022 and 2024, but that would still be too steep to stay on track, the IEA said.

This doesn’t mean the Paris agreement and other goals are lost causes, however. The IEA believed that projects approved or underway before the pandemic could rein in those emissions. The agency also suggested that the gas industry could help by cutting down on methane leaks that contribute to climate change.

There are positive signs. Renewable energy is outpacing fossil fuels in some countries, and car manufacturers are increasingly committing to all-electric lineups in the next several years. Still, the IEA report lends a sense of urgency to those actions. Humanity might need to temper its eagerness to reestablish normalcy and refocus on green tech, at least if it wants to avoid replacing one global problem with another.

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