Global economic growth leaves 2050 climate change targets in doubt

Rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions driven by a stronger global economy last year threaten to undermine international climate change targets over the coming decades.


That is the warning from consultancy firm Capgemini, which highlights in a report today how GHG emissions increased by 1.4% in 2017 after stagnating for the previous three years.

Driven by economic growth and higher energy demand, these emissions put at risk the “already fragile” targets of the Paris Agreement, despite carbon prices rising to €20 (£17.5) per ton in Europe earlier this year.

“In 2017, a stronger economy meant GHG emissions rose for the first time in several years,” Capgemini energy and utilities senior advisor, Colette Lewiner, said. “As a result, the 2050 climate change objectives may well not be met. 

“The EU has taken some measures, but they are insufficient to reach a meaningful carbon price of around €55 per ton. For this to be achieved, carbon floor prices would be needed at either regional or national levels.”

Despite these findings, previous research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed how some countries have managed to cut emissions while growing their economies.

The UK leads he G20 after cutting emissions by 29% since 2000 and growing its economy 34% at the same time, largely thanks to strong growth in its service sector and a fall in construction and manufacturing.

Mexico, Argentina and Brazil have all also been able to reduce emissions while growing their economies over the last decade.

However, the findings show that no country is decarbonising fast enough to achieve the Paris Agreement, and that the world’s 2˚C carbon budget will run out in less than 20 years on the current trajectory.

“There seems to be almost zero chance of limiting warming to well below 2˚C,” PwC director of climate change, Jonathan Grant, said. “There are many solutions to this problem – governments just need to get on with implementing them.

“Recent reforms to the EU Emissions Trading System that raised the price of carbon this year are a good example of what’s needed.” 


Image credit | iStock

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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