Report: G20 nations off track to meet Paris Agreement goals, despite clean energy promises

Of the energy provided to G20 nations during the past 10 years, 82% was generated using coal, oil or gas - despite the bloc's promises to transition to clean power.

The findings come ahead of the UN's COP24 conference, where delegates will develop a

The findings come ahead of the UN's COP24 conference, where delegates will develop a "rule book" for implementing the Paris Agreement

That is the key conclusion of a new report from global non-profit Climate Transparency, which reveals that all but one of the world’s 20 largest economies are failing to deliver on their Paris Agreement commitments.

The report, entitled ‘brown to green 2018’ and released today (14 November), found that G20 nations collectively increased subsidies for fossil fuels from $75bn (£58bn) to $147bn (£114bn) between 2007 and 2016, despite pledges to phase them out completely being made more than a decade ago. 

This increase in subsidisation – which Climate Transparency puts down to policymakers “paying more heed to the fossil fuel industry than to scientific advice” – contributed to 15 nations reporting a rise in emissions in 2017.

Report co-author Jan Buerck said that the gap between the current commitments made by nations and those needed to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5C was borne of a “huge fight by the fossil fuel industry against cheap renewables”.

Indeed, the report notes that each G20 nation is spending an average of $91bn on fossil fuel projects each year. 

“The gap is still very big – the G20 is not moving fast enough,” Buerck said. “The old economy is well organised and they have put huge lobbying pressure on governments to spend tax money to subsidise the old world.”

Global shifts 

Drawing on the latest emissions data from 2017 and covering 80 indicators across decarbonisation, climate policies, green finance and climate resiliency, the report additionally compares the goals and policies of each G20 nations.

According to the report, India is leading the bloc in closing the gap between its current actions and the Paris Agreement’s trajectories, due to the fact that its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) align with a 2C scenario.

On the opposite end of the scale, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are named in the report as the worst laggards on climate challenges, with all three nations having implemented policies which align with a 4C trajectory.

As for the UK, the report notes that Britain has made the fastest transition away from fossil fuels of any G20 member nation, with a 7.7% decline in the use of fossil fuels between 2012 and 2015. It also praises the nation for having aligned its transport policies with a 1.5C trajectory. 

However, the report also predicts that this progress could stall in the coming months and years due to cuts in renewable subsidies and energy efficiency grants.

The road to COP24

The findings come just weeks before the UN’s COP24 conference, which will mark the start a two-year process for governments to deliver on their commitments to reduce emissions, is set to begin in Poland.

One of the key aims of the three-week conference is for delegates to create a “rule book” for the Paris Agreement, detailing how much climate funding nations should commit to and how their funding levels will be adjusted to support progressive emission reductions.

Former UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretary Christina Figueres praised the Climate Transparency report for providing an “independent stocktake” on the current state of the global energy situation ahead of the talks.

“Global emissions need to peak in 2020, so this is valuable information for countries when they declare their climate contributions,” Figueres said.

Climate Transparency’s findings echo those of a recent UN report, which concluded that the world will be on track for an estimated 3.4C temperature rise if current NDCs are implemented. Similarly, research from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economic and Policy found that just 16 of the 58 nations to have made Paris Agreement commitments had set domestic targets which are ambitious enough.

Sarah George


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