The coronavirus lockdown will cause the biggest drop in energy demand in history, with only renewables managing to increase output through the crisis. As people around the world consume less oil, gas and coal, electricity generated from the wind and sun will keep flowing, resulting in an unprecedented 8% decline in global carbon dioxide emissions this year, according to a report from the International Energy Agency. “The energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a statement released from the organization’s headquarters in Paris on Thursday.
The pandemic has infected at least 3 million people worldwide and killed more than 200,000 people as of April 29. With no drug to treat Covid-19 and a vaccine not expected until at least the end of the year, reducing the interactions between infected people is the only effective way to control the spread. Those measures, however, have a severe impact on economic growth and energy demand. Each month of lockdown on the scale of what’s in place this month reduces annual energy demand by 1.5%, IEA estimates.