Global decarbonisation efforts ‘stall’, pushing climate goals out of reach

(EurActiv, 19 Sep 2019) Global decarbonisation efforts will need to be seven times greater if the world is to stand a fair chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C, according to a new PwC report which found decarbonisation has slowed to its lowest level since 2011. EURACTIV’s media partner reports.

PwC UK’s latest Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI), published today (19 September), found that reaching the Paris Agreement’s 2C limit for global warming would require the global economy to reduce its carbon intensity by 7.5% every year up to 2100. The report notes that this is five times faster than the current decarbonisation rate of 1.6% – less than half the decarbonisation rate witnessed in 2015 (of 3.3%), when the Paris Agreement was introduced.

In order to meet the more ambitious target of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5C which has been requested by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC’s) special report – decarbonisation rates must reach 11.3% annually. That is seven times greater than the current rate, which has slowed to its lowest level since 2011.

Global emissions actually increased by 2% in 2018, due to a 2.9% increase in energy demand. The report warns that extreme heat and cold weather patterns contributed to this growth in demand, and will likely exacerbate decarbonisation efforts in the future. In total, 69% of the increase in energy demand was met by fossil fuel production.

PwC UK’s director of climate change and co-author of the LCEI Jonathan Grant said: “It’s worrying that progress on climate seems to have stalled. There’s a huge gap between the rhetoric of the ‘climate emergency’ and the reality of policy responses around the world which have been inadequate.

“This is increasingly challenging for companies to manage, as they deal with both extreme weather impacts and growing climate policy risk. They are having to balance continued demand for business as usual as well as urgent calls for disruptive change.”

The study notes the need for G20 nations to mobilise action to accelerate decarbonisation. In 2018, Germany was the best performer amongst the G20, with a decarbonisation rate of 6.5%. However, the analysis estimates that the average decarbonisation rate of the G20 in order to meet their National Determined Contribution targets (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement is 3% annually to 2030, almost double the global average.

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EurActiv, 19 Sep 2019: Global decarbonisation efforts ‘stall’, pushing climate goals out of reach