In the professional services firm’s annual Low Carbon Economy Index, which covers the rate of change of global carbon intensity, PwC says even doubling the current rate of decarbonisation will still lead to emissions consistent with six degrees of warming by the end of the century.

“To give ourselves a more than 50% chance of avoiding 2 degrees will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation”.

The report clearly states the need to plan for a much warmer world than previously anticipated and without immediate action temperature rises could increase significantly.

“We have passed a critical threshold – not once since World War 2 has the world achieved [a 5.1%] rate of decarbonisation, but the task now confronting us is to achieve it for 39 consecutive years”.

The 2011 rate of improvement in carbon intensity was 0.7%, giving an average rate of decarbonisation of 0.8% a year since 2000.

According to the report, if the world continues to decarbonise at the rate since the turn of the millennium, there will be an emissions gap of approximately 12 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) by 2020, 30 GtCO2 by 2030 and nearly 70 GtCO2 by 2050, as compared to the 2-degree scenario.

In the emerging markets, where the E7 is now emitting more than the G7, improvements in carbon intensity have largely stalled, with strong GDP growth closely coupled with rapid emissions growth, says PwC.

The Government’s lack of certainty on policies around carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear, critical technologies for low carbon energy generation, has been cited as hindering carbon reduction plans and much needed investment.

“Government support for renewable energy technologies is also being scaled back. As negotiators convene every year to attempt to agree a global deal, carbon emissions continue to rise in most parts of the world,” says PwC.

“Business leaders have been asking for clarity in political ambition on climate change. Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2°C, but 4°C, or even 6°C,” it added.

Leigh Stringer

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