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UK sets record for low-carbon growth in G20

The UK has topped the G20’s Low Carbon Economy Index with a 10.9% year-on-year decline in greenhouse gas emissions linked to energy use.

The analysis from PwC models major economies’ carbon intensity. The UK’s 10.9% reduction is better than any reported in the analysis over the past seven years.

Recent changes to the Climate Change Levy, Green Deal and renewables incentives have raised concerns about stability of regulation and incentives designed to underpin the transition to a low-carbon economy.

As a result, the report describes the UK’s performance as “exceptional”, cautioning that it owes more to “circumstance than policy” with the closure of coal-fired power stations, strong economic growth and a warmer winter among the contributing factors.

PwC sustainability and climate change director Jonathan Grant said: “While the annual record for the UK is headline-grabbing, it’s the country’s consistent performance since 2000, reducing carbon intensity by 3.3% on average a year, that is notable. It’s critical to – at a minimum – maintain it and ideally increase it.

“The level achieved is more than twice that achieved globally, and – with a deal in Paris on long-term climate change on the horizon – is a strong long-term competitive positioning.

“While business should expect and plan for more regulation on carbon emissions, this shows the UK has a head start on other countries. Maintaining this leadership requires stability, not surprises in government policy.”

Overall, however, the level of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP needed to limit global warming to 2°C has been missed for the seventh successive year.

Rapid and sustained decarbonisation of around 6.3% is needed every year globally in order to limit global average temperature rise to 2°C.

Emissions reduction targets submitted already by over 160 national governments as suggestions for the Paris targets would only limit warming to 3°C by the end of the century, if they were achieved.

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