Climate mitigation scenarios with persistent COVID-19-related energy demand changes

Jarmo S. Kikstra*, Adriano Vinca, Francesco Lovat, Benigna Boza-Kiss, Bas van Ruijven, Charlie Wilson, Joeri Rogelj, Behnam Zakeri, Oliver Fricko, Keywan Riahi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic caused radical temporary breaks with past energy use trends. How post-pandemic recovery will impact the longer-term energy transition is unclear. Here we present a set of global COVID-19 shock-and-recovery scenarios that systematically explore the effect of demand changes persisting. Our pathways project final energy demand reductions of 1–36 EJ yr−1 by 2025 and cumulative CO2 emission reductions of 14–45 GtCO2 by 2030. Uncertainty ranges depend on the depth and duration of the economic downturn and demand-side changes. Recovering from the pandemic with energy-efficient practices embedded in new patterns of travel, work, consumption and production reduces climate mitigation challenges. A low energy demand recovery reduces carbon prices for a 1.5 °C-consistent pathway by 19%, lowers energy supply investments until 2030 by US$1.8 trillion and softens the pressure to rapidly upscale renewable energy technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1114-1123
Number of pages10
JournalNature Energy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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