How Recovery From COVID-19’s Impact on Energy Demand Could Help Meet Climate Targets


The research, published in Nature Energy, shows that a low energy demand recovery could reduce a hypothetical tax on all carbon emissions by 19%

The pandemic-related drop in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 was likely the largest on record in a single year, but how our recovery might affect future emissions is less clear. New modeling examines alternative scenarios and how they could impact climate mitigation targets.

A group of IIASA researchers in the Energy, Climate, and Environment Program performed a bottom-up assessment of changes in energy-related demand and estimated how new patterns of travel, work, consumption, and production might reduce or increase climate mitigation challenges.

“Many people have been wondering what the large changes in societies that came with the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdowns mean for climate change,” says Jarmo Kikstra, lead author of the study. “If societies are just moving back to old practices, the answer is that there is virtually no effect. However, if some of the changes in energy-use practices persist, climate mitigation challenges will be affected.”

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