COP26: New PwC research shows global rate of decarbonisation must increase 5x to meet Paris Agreement climate goal

COP26: New PwC research shows global rate of decarbonisation must increase 5x to meet Paris Agreement climate goal

27 October 2021: The “PwC Net Zero Economy Index 2021” finds that a decarbonisation rate of 12.9% - more than five times greater than what was achieved over the last year (2.5%) and eight times faster than the global average over the course of the 21st century - is required to halve global emissions by 2030 and to reach net zero by mid-century. This is the trajectory needed to meet the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C and avoid catastrophic climate change.

COVID-19 impact

Global energy demand fell by 4.3% in 2020, leading to a reduction in energy related emissions of 5.6% (from 2019 levels) as well as a decline in total global emissions.  As a result, the rate of global decarbonisation (reduction in carbon intensity: energy-related CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP) reached 2.5%, but this was just a slight increase from the 2019 rate of 2.4%.  However, the emission reduction resulting from this energy demand anomaly still falls way short of the progress needed to keep the temperature rise below 1.5°C. 

Even with the global economic slowdown in 2020, no country in the Group of 20 (G20) was able to achieve the 12.9% rate of decarbonisation required to limit warming to 1.5°C. This is worrying, knowing that the G20 represents 80% of global GDP and around 75% of global emissions”, Marc Daelman, Partner at PwC Belgium, commented on the research findings.

More decisive action needed

PwC’s Net Zero Economy Index 2021 highlights that both governments and businesses have significantly stepped up their ambition to act on climate change.The last 18 months have seen an unprecedented number of net zero commitments made by the private sector. Over half the sectors that make up the global economy have committed to halve their emissions within the next decade. On the government's side, almost all G20 countries have enacted key climate policies and made net zero commitments.

“In Belgium the federal government presented a roadmap earlier this month with the objective of achieving a cumulative reduction in CO2 emissions of 233 million tons, or 55%, by 2030. This is an important step in the right direction. However, to deliver climate action at the scale required, both governments and private actors need to raise their game. The window of opportunity is narrow so it’s imperative we take more decisive action now. The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the end of this month will hopefully kick-start these important changes”, Marc Daelman concludes.


Notes to editors

About the Net Zero Economy Index

The Net Zero Economy Index tracks the decarbonisation of energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide. The analysis is underpinned by the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, which reflects carbon emissions based on the consumption of oil, gas and coal for combustion related activities. The analysis does not consider emissions from other sectors (e.g. AFOLU) or from any other greenhouse gases, and does not allow for any carbon that is sequestered. As a result, this data cannot be compared directly with national emissions inventories.

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Maïté Oreglia
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