The year 2021 is proving to be pivotal for the global energy transition. Even before the world has fully recovered from the pandemic, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions already began rebounding in many regions to pre-pandemic levels. The global economy has not been the only victim of the pandemic. Rather, climate negotiations too came to a standstill, raising serious concerns about the prospects for a successful outcome of the Glasgow summit, scheduled for later this year.
Yet, signs of mounting climate ambition are evident, from net-zero emissions pledges adopted in the corporate sector to new decarbonisation pledges from major emitters such as China, Europe, and the United States. Only time will tell which dynamic will prevail, but the endgame may well be determined by what happens in this crucial year.
Dr. Michael Mehling is Deputy Director, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR), Massachusetts Institute of Technology.