Very few of the G20 nations, including Canada, are on track to live within their carbon budgets for 2000-50: PwC Report

TORONTO, Dec. 9 /CNW/ - Very few of the G20 nations are on track to live within their carbon budgets for 2000-50 according to a new report by economists and climate change specialists at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). The report reviews G20 carbon intensity levels between 2000 and 2008 and the distance to go to 2050, underlining the case for an ambitious deal in Copenhagen.

The report estimates a maximum global carbon budget for the period from 2000 to 2050 of just under 1,300 GtCO2, with national breakdowns for the G20 on an annual basis, to give the world a fair chance of limiting global temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees C (relative to pre-industrial levels), without sacrificing long term economic growth.

Against the levels implied by the estimates, global carbon emissions are already 10% off track, with even the EU currently 7% behind. Canada is at 11.4% behind. At current rates of carbon intensity improvement, the world will already have exceeded its estimated global carbon budget for the first half of this century by 2034, 16 years ahead of schedule.

Such a 'business as usual' scenario could result in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations exceeding 1000ppm CO2e by the end of the century with potentially disastrous implications for the climate system and the global economy.

Using PwC's global long-term economic growth and energy consumption model, the study derives plausible annual carbon budgets and carbon intensity pathways for the global economy and the individual G20 economies between 2000 and 2050, consistent with a consensus view of a 2 degrees C stabilisation scenario. The PwC analysis estimates a global energy-related carbon emissions budget to be under 1,300 GtCO2 for the period from 2000 to 2050, to have a fair chance of restricting global warming to 2 degrees C.

PwC's carbon budget analysis provides the basis for constructing two new PwC Low Carbon Economy indices, examining carbon intensity reduction achievements between 2000-2008 as compared to estimated carbon budges for this period (the PwC Low Carbon Achievement index), and the mountain the world now needs to climb to get back onto a low carbon trajectory by 2020 (PwC Low Carbon Challenge Index) and continue on this track to 2050.

"Achieving emissions targets is ultimately much more important than setting them, but political commitment to ambitious targets is a crucial first step," says Christine Schuh, Leader of the PwC Canada Climate Change Practice. "The time to act is now. G20 governments have a huge challenge to achieve the required reductions in carbon intensity by 2050. Canada's own carbon challenge to get back on track is to reduce emissions by 89.5% to get to 2050. It will require concerted efforts from all countries on all fronts, including energy efficiency, greater use of nuclear and renewables and, in the longer run, the broad deployment of carbon capture and storage."

Key points from the PwC Low Carbon Achievement Index are that:

-   Almost a fifth of the total global carbon budget for the first half
        of this century has been used in the last eight years
    -   PwC projects that the world would have needed to achieve 2% per annum
        intensity reductions in 2000-8 to stay within the estimated budget.
        To date, we have achieved less than half this rate of decarbonisation
        (0.8% per annum on average in 2000-8)
    -   The resultant cumulative global carbon debt in 2000-8 is estimated at
        around 13 GtC02, roughly equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of
        China and the US combined in 2008
    -   Global carbon intensity in 2008 was already around 10% above the
        budget for that year
    -   The EU, which claims a leadership position in the climate change
        agenda, is estimated to be around 7% off track in 2008, having
        improved carbon intensity by 1.8% a year in 2000-8 as opposed to 2.6%
        in the 2000-based pathway
    -   The UK, one of the first economies to set a legally binding carbon
        budget, has recorded an intermediate performance in the assessment
        compared to other EU states, coming eighth in the G20 index (behind
        France and Germany but ahead of Italy), about 6-7% adrift from the
        low carbon pathway
    -   Only Russia has reduced its carbon intensity by more since 2000 that
        the budgeted amount, helped by very rapid improvements in energy
        efficiency over this period, albeit from a relatively low starting
        point.

The Low Carbon Challenge 2020-2050: a mountain to climb

To make up the lost ground since 2000, the research measured the distance to go for individual G20 nations, against the estimated global carbon budget for 2000-2050. This carbon budget analysis emphasises the key role of China, the US, the EU and India in any global climate change deal. Together these 'Big 4' economies account for around 63% of the cumulative global carbon budget for 2000-50, underlining the central importance of these economies to a global deal in Copenhagen.

Key points from the PwC Low Carbon Challenge index are that:

-   To get back on a smooth 2000 based trajectory to a low carbon
        economy, the world needs to reduce its carbon intensity by around
        3.5% a year by 2020, or 35% cumulatively between 2008 and 2020, and
        by around 85% in total between 2008 - 2050
    -   Because of the cumulative effect of any shortfall, if policymakers
        set lower interim targets for 2020 than this, then we will need to
        deliver dramatically more ambitious reductions from 2020 though to
        2050 with a consequent greater danger that this will come at a
        serious economic cost relative to a smoother transition pathway
    -   Reduction rates required in 2000-20 are four times faster than the
        actual rate of carbon intensity reduction achieved globally since
        2000
    -   Globally, PwC estimates indicate that carbon emissions from energy
        use need to peak by around 2015 and decline back to 2009 levels by
        2020 in order to get back on the pathway to a low carbon economy
    -   Although the low carbon pathway for China assumes similar
        improvements in carbon intensity to the US and EU, aggregate
        emissions in China will continue to grow until 2025 as its rapid
        industrialisation process continues
    -   Even on a low carbon pathway, China's per capita emissions are
        projected to rise in the next few years to just over 6 tCO2 in 2020,
        but will need to fall back by 2050. This compares with around 9 tCO2
        per head in the UK today

India, which still has a long way to go in its industrialisation process, has a lower decarbonisation target of just over 75% for the period to 2050. India is one of the very few countries where per capita emissions will be higher in 2050 than now, but only by a small margin and against a backdrop of a rapidly growing economy

The PwC Low Carbon Economy report includes:

a.  PwC Low Carbon Achievement (LCA) Index: G20 nations' track record on
        carbon intensity reduction between 2000 and 2008 relative to
        estimated carbon budgets for the first half of this century as a
        whole
    b.  PwC Low Carbon Challenge (LCC) Index: The scale of national carbon
        intensity reduction required between 2008 and 2020, and between 2008
        and 2050, in order to live within the 2000-50 carbon budgets after
        taking account of performance up to 2008
    c.  Key climate pledges to 2020: Recognising the pivotal role of the
        Big 4 key economies, currently representing 63% of the estimated
        global emission budget for 2000-2050, the report contains a further,
        high-level analysis of the policies of the US, China and India, and
        an analysis of UK policies as a representative of the wider EU
        effort. The analysis assesses the emissions reduction potential of
        each policy proposed in relation to this study's estimated carbon
        budgets for the period to 2020, in advance of recent pre Copenhagen
        policy announcements from China and the US.

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