UK carbon intensity falls 4.8%

8th September 2014

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Colin Graham Hayes

The UK has achieved a drop in carbon intensity four times that of the global average thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, record growth in renewable energy and the closure of several coal-fired power stations, according to consultancy PwC.

PwC scored the UK second in its latest annual ranking of the change in rate of national carbon intensity of G20 nations.

For every $1 million of GDP in 2012-13, PwC calculates that the UK emitted 206 tonnes of CO2. The UK has improved its performance since the consultancy’s 2012 rankings, when it came second from bottom.

Leo Johnson, partner in sustainability and climate change at PwC, said: “The UK is starting to turn the corner on carbon. Through increased efficiency and investment in renewables the UK has started to decouple growth from carbon.

“The challenge now is getting a policy platform in place that accelerates this transition," he said.

Australia was ranked top in the index, with a 7.2% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, the report states. PwC cites a fall in energy demand and a 30% increase in the use of hydroelectric power due to unusually high rainfall as reasons for Australia’s performance.

But the report notes that this level of achievement may be hard to maintain due to the repeal of the country’s carbon tax and its current upward trend in extracting oil, coal and gas. Italy, China and South Africa were ranked third, fourth and fifth highest performers respectively.

However, France, the US, India, Germany and Brazil all saw increases in carbon intensity and overall, the world has missed its carbon target for the sixth successive year, PwC found.

The target is based on projections of economic growth and the carbon budget set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In order to meet the target, carbon intensity needs to be cut globally by 6.2% a year from now to 2100, PwC calculated. This is more than five times the current 1.2% rate of reduction, which will see the century’s entire carbon budget used up within 20 years, the report warns.

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