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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

G20 countries set to miss climate change targets by ‘wide margin’

High levels of investment in fossil fuels mean that goals set out in the Paris agreement to keep global temperature rises well below 2°C will be missed.

G20 still subsidising fossil fuels ©Shutterstock

That is according to a new report by Climate Transparency, which reveals that the G20 countries provided a total of over $230bn (£178bn) in subsidies to coal, oil and gas in 2014.

It reveals that greenhouse gas emissions increased by 34% between 1990 and 2014 in these countries, but that their economies grew by 117%, suggesting they are using energy resources more efficiently.

“The G20 countries use energy more efficiently and use cleaner energy sources, but energy consumption and the economies have grown,” NewClimate Institute founding partner, Niklas Höhne, said.

“So the overall growth of greenhouse gas emissions is slowing, but is not yet in decline. Renewables are on the rise, but coal and other fossil fuels still dominate the G20’s energy mix.”

The report was released ahead of this week’s meeting of G20 leaders in Hamburg, and involved contributions from experts from Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and the UK.

It shows that the carbon intensity of total primary energy supply is still rising, despite G20 countries being home to 98% of the global installed capacity of wind power, 97% of solar power, and 93% of electric vehicles.

Among G20 countries, the highest levels of public finance for fossil fuels come from Japan and China, who provided about $19bn and $17bn a year between 2013 and 2014, respectively.

It shows that China, France, Germany and the UK are the most attractive countries for renewable energy investment, while Canada has the highest volume of greenhouse emissions per capita, followed by Saudi Arabia, Australia.

The US is the next biggest greenhouse gas emitter per capita, which is likely to worsen after President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement last month.

“After Trump resigned from the Paris agreement, and began dismantling important national climate policies like the Clean Power Plan, experts now give the US much lower ratings for policy performance,” report co-author, Jan Burck, said.

“The pro-Paris reactions in a lot of US States and cities will hopefully help it to still play a part in combating the climate crisis."

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