PwC: UK spearheads clean growth in G20

The decline of coal consumption and improved energy efficiency helped the UK to decarbonise at a rate faster than any other G20 country in 2016, according to research from PWC.

New analysis shows that the UK’s carbon intensity fell by 7.7% in 2016, compared to the global average of 2.6%. PwC’s annual Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI) reveals that Britain’s energy demand fell by 1.4% last year due to continued efficiencies in buildings, vehicles and appliances.

According to the report, Britain reduced its energy related emissions by 6%, while maintaining GDP growth of 1.8%. Coal consumption was slashed in half, and now represents just 7% of the UK’s energy consumption, PwC claims.

“Our initial LCEI analysis shows the UK hitting impressive decarbonisation rates compared with other major countries,” PwC director of climate change Jonathan Grant said. “The UK led the world in the industrial revolution and is now leading the low-carbon revolution.”

Investment signals

The research claims that Britain leads other G20 countries, including the US and China, in achieving the highest decarbonisation rate since 2000, with an average annual fall of 3.7% in carbon intensity. This was aided by a combination of energy efficiency improvements and a slight structural shift from heavy industry towards a service-based economy.

Renewable energy in the UK has tripled since 2000 given substantial investment in wind and biomass, the study shows. But with the transition away from coal nearly complete, PwC is calling on the Government to focus its efforts on tackling heat and transport emissions.

Grant continued: “There is some promise in the transport sector, with UK’s continued investments in ultra-low emissions and autonomous vehicles, and recent announcements to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and for London’s entire transport system to be zero-emission by 2050. However these are targets set for 20 or 30 years away.

“It’ll be policies in the next 1-2 years that will provide signals to investors and consumers to sustain UK’s decarbonisation.”

Clean growth

The Government is due to shortly release the long-awaited Clean Growth Plan, which will outline the country’s bid to limit annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032. Ministers have repeatedly vowed to seize the opportunities of low-carbon technologies to help the country reach its climate targets and boost the economy.

Commenting on the PwC findings, Climate Change Minister Claire Perry said: “This report confirms the UK is leading the world in the fight against climate change and highlights the results of our efforts to phase out dirty coal power while investing in renewable technologies and energy efficiency. 

“The Government recognises there is still work to do. The upcoming Clean Growth Plan will outline our ambitious plan for reducing emissions in key sectors, while taking advantage of opportunities to grow the economy throughout the 2020s.” 

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie