Climate progress stalls

30th September 2019

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The rate of global decarbonisation has slowed to its lowest level since 2011 after four years of moderate progress, leaving the Paris Agreement's goals further out of reach.

Analysis by PwC shows that carbon intensity of the global economy fell by 1.6% in 2018, less than half the 3.3% reduction seen in 2015, and well below the 7.5% cut needed every year until 2100.

“There's a huge gap between the rhetoric of the 'climate emergency' and the reality of policy responses around the world,“ PwC climate change director, Jonathan Grant, said.

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.“

Although the global economy is getting more energy efficient, the research shows that overall energy consumption rose by 2.9% last year with the resurgence of energy intensive industries in China, India and Indonesia.

The increase in energy demand continues to be met by greater consumption of fossil fuels, which increased global emissions by 2% in 2018 – the fastest rise recorded since 2011.

The extreme heat and cold weather patterns seen globally last year also led to a growth in demand for electricity and gas for heating and cooling.

PwC said that the world will have to hit a decarbonisation rate of 11.3% to have a realistic chance of limiting warming to 1.5ÀöC – seven times greater than the current rate.

For all the progress that has been made recently in building public engagement, business leadership, and political commitments, decarbonisation has stalled, PwC global climate change leader, Dr Celine Herweijer, said.

The speed of transformation that we need for our power and transport systems, our cities, the way we use land, and the way we produce and consume, is now that much more daunting, but it is possible.

Image credit: ©iStock

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