UK leads the way to low carbon transition

The UK and China are leading the world in transitioning to a low carbon economy, according to a new study out today (October 4).

According to PwC’s Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI) 2018 , the UK remains at the top of the G20 leaderboard for its long-term low carbon transition since 2000, decarbonising at 3.7% per year.

The study found the UK has reduced emissions by 29% since 2000 while growing the economy by 34%.

In the electricity sector, emissions per MWh generated have been cut by 29% in the last decade, due to a combination of policies. Following publication of the Government’s ‘Ultra Low Emission Vehicles’ strategy, the number of these cars on the road has grown by 40% per year on average.

Although still at a low base compared to other countries, there are more than 140,000 low emissions vehicles on the road at the end of 2017 compared to 10,000 in 2010. Early figures for 2018 suggest the trend will continue for both electric vehicles and the shift towards renewables.

But the report adds the UK’s decarbonisation rate last year was 4.7%, a little lower than the year before.

In 2017, emissions fell by 2.9% as coal and gas demand fell while oil consumption remained constant. These fossil fuels were replaced with renewable generation and there was also a marginal reduction in energy use.

‘The UK is a global leader in driving the low carbon transition,’ said Director of Climate Change and co-author of the LCEI at PwC, Jonathan Grant.

‘Renewables, energy efficiency and dominant growth of the services sectors all contributed to the UK’s top performance compared with other G20 countries.

‘Following success in decarbonising the electricity sector, achieving the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy, which was launched last year, will now depend on faster progress in other sectors, such as transport and industry.’

Although China is the world’s largest emitter, the report found it has demonstrated the highest decarbonisation in 2017 of 5.2%.

China has reduced the carbon intensity of its economy by 41% in the past ten years putting it on track to achieve its national target (NDC).

However, despite these impressive statistics there was still a 1.4% increase in emissions in China in 2017, and its carbon intensity remains above the E7 average.

Paris Agreement

But the report warns that while many countries have cut carbon intensity of their economies over the past four years, the average 2.6% per year drop remains less than half of what is required to limit warming to two degrees. Not one country is on track this year with the decarbonisation rate needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal. Without a dramatic step up in decarbonisation efforts, the report warns that at this rate the ‘two degrees’ carbon budget will run out in less than 20 years.

‘There seems to be almost zero chance of limiting warming to well below two degrees – the main goal of the Paris Agreement. Given the gap between talk and action on climate, the risks to business are obvious: fragmented, knee-jerk regulation and physical impacts of climate change,’ said Mr Grant.

‘There are many solutions to this problem – governments just need to get on with implementing them. Recent reform to the EU Emissions Trading System that raised the price of carbon this year is a good example of what’s needed.’

The full report is available from the .

Photo by acidpix

Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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