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UK makes carbon intensity progress

Published: 11th November 2014

The UK is now the most-improved G20 nation on carbon intensity, and it is already one of the world’s most energy efficient economies, according to latest analysis by financial consultancy, PwC.

Improvements in energy efficiency, a national rise in renewable energy and the closure of two large coal plants, meant that UK carbon intensity fell significantly in 2013, alongside relatively strong economic growth.

However, for the sixth successive year of PwC analysis, the “Low Carbon Economy Index, 2 degrees of separation – ambition and reality” finds that the global carbon intensity (greenhouse gas emissions per $GDP) reduction target has been missed.  The gap between what countries are doing and what’s needed continues to grow.

Current total annual energy-related emissions are just over 30 GtC02 and rising, on the back of GDP growth of 3.1 per cent.  In the same period, carbon intensity was reduced by only 1.2 per cent, a fraction of what was needed.  As a result, the global challenge going forward is tougher than before – averaging 6.2 per cent every year, to 2100.

PwC’s climate change analysts estimate global economies need to cut their energy related carbon emissions for every $ of GDP by 6.2 per cent every year from now to 2100.  That’s more than five times the rate currently achieved.  The reduction target is an estimate of how much countries need to reduce their energy related emissions by, while growing their economy in order to limit global warming to 2°C.

In the index’s G20 analysis, an unexpected champion surpassed the annual target – Australia – recording a decarbonisation rate of 7.2 per cent over 2013, putting it top of the table for the second year in a row.  Three other countries – the UK, Italy and China – achieved a decarbonisation rate of between 4 and 5 per cent.

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