G20 heads in the wrong direction on climate action

(Eco Business, 12 Nov 2019) Researchers find plenty of room for improvement in current strategies for tackling climate change, a year ahead of a deadline to ramp up their ambition.

Emissions from energy, industry, transport, buildings and agriculture in G20 nations all rose in 2018, despite the fact that most have both the technical expertise and economic incentives to lower them, a major report has concluded.

In order to keep global temperature rise to within 1.5°C – the limit recommended by climate scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – G20 countries need to cut their current greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 per cent by 2030, compared with 2010 levels, and reach net zero emissions by 2070.

But although there are positive signs in some sectors in some countries, the overall picture painted by the researchers is alarming. If current emission levels persist, the report states, the remaining carbon budget of 420 gigatonnes of CO2 will be expended in just over nine years.

The G20 are responsible for around 80 per cent of global emissions and the Green to Brown report is the most comprehensive annual review of their transition to net zero emissions economies. It is published by the Climate Transparency partnership, a coalition of research organisations and non-governmental organisations from the majority of the G20 countries.

Drawing on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the International Energy Agency, the researchers assess climate action across mitigation, finance and adaptation against benchmarks for keeping global temperature rise within 1.5°C.

In the industrial sector, this equates to reducing CO2 emissions globally by 65-90 per cent from 2010 levels by 2050. But emissions in this sector are the highest in the G20, accounting for 24 per cent of direct energy-related emissions and 17 per cent of indirect emissions from electricity and co-generated heat in 2018.  

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Eco Business, 12 Nov 2019: G20 heads in the wrong direction on climate action