Emissions are rising across the G20, again – warns a report
Despite net zero commitments and updated NDCs, the G20’s climate action is leaving the world far from meeting the 1.5°C global warming limit
Jakarta, 15 Oktober 2021-After a short period of decline, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are rebounding across the G20, with Argentina, China, India and Indonesia projected to exceed their 2019 emissions levels. This is one of the key findings of the Climate Transparency Report – the world’s most comprehensive annual stocktake and comparison of G20 climate action.
In 2020, energy-related CO2 emissions plunged by 6% across the G20. In 2021, however, they are projected to rebound by 4%. “Rebounding emissions across the G20, the group responsible for 75% of global GHG emissions, shows that deep and fast cuts in emissions are now urgently needed to achieve net zero announcements,” says Gahee Han from the South Korean organisation Solutions For Our Climate, one of the lead authors of the report.
The report also notes some positive developments, such as the growth of solar and wind power among G20 members, with new records of installed capacities in 2020. The share of renewables in energy supply is projected to grow from 10% in 2020 to 12% in 2021. And in the power sector (energy used to make electricity and heat), renewables increased by 20% between 2015 and 2020, and are projected to become nearly 30% of the G20’s power mix in 2021. At the same time, though, experts note that apart from the UK, G20 members have neither short- nor long-term strategies in place for achieving 100% renewables in the power sector by 2050.
In spite of these positive changes, dependence on fossil fuels is not going down. On the contrary, the consumption of coal is projected to rise by nearly 5% in 2021, while the consumption of gas has increased by 12% across the G20 from 2015-2020. The report finds that the growth in coal is mainly concentrated in China – the largest global producer and consumer of coal – followed by the US and India.
At the same time, recent announcements signal that most G20 governments are aware of the need for a transition to low-carbon economies. Net zero targets should be reached by latest 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C, something that according to the Climate Transparency Report, has been acknowledged by the majority of G20 governments. By August 2021, 14 G20 members had already committed to net zero targets covering almost 61% of global GHG emissions.
As stated in the Paris Agreement, each Party is expected to submit a Nationally Determined Contribution – a climate plan that lays out targets, policies and measures that each government aims to implement. By September 2021, 13 G20 members (including France, Germany and Italy under the EU’s NDC) had officially submitted NDC updates, with six setting more ambitious 2030 targets. Yet, even if fully implemented, current targets assessed by April 2021 would still lead to warming of 2.4°C by the end of the century, experts caution. “G20 governments need to come to the table with more ambitious national emission reductions targets. The numbers in this report confirm we can’t move the dial without them – they know it, we know it – the ball is firmly in their court ahead of COP26,” says Kim Coetzee from Climate Analytics, who coordinated the overall analysis.
Key selected figures from the report:
- Due to governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, energy-related CO2 emissions declined by 6% in 2020. However, in 2021, CO2 emissions are projected to rebound by 4% across the G20, with Argentina, China, India and Indonesia projected to exceed their 2019 emissions levels.
- The G20’s share of renewables increased from 9% in 2019 to 10% in 2020 in Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES), and this trend is projected to continue, rising to 12% in 2021.
- Between 2015 and 2020, the share of renewables in the G20’s power mix increased by 20%, reaching 28.6% of the G20’s power generation in 2020 and is projected to reach 29.5% in 2021.
- From 2015 to 2020, the carbon intensity of the energy sector has decreased by 4%
across the G20.
- Coal consumption is projected to rise by almost 5% in 2021, with this growth driven by China (accounting for 61% of the growth), the USA (18%) and India (17%).
- The USA (4.9 tCO2/capita) and Australia (4.1 tCO2/capita) have the highest building emissions per capita in the G20 (average is 1.4 tCO2/capita), reflecting the high share of fossil fuels, especially natural gas and oil, used for heat generation.
- Between 1999 and 2018 there have been nearly 500,000 fatalities and close to USD 3.5 trillion of economic costs due to climate impacts worldwide, with China, India, Japan, Germany, and the USA being hit particularly hard in 2018.
- Across the G20, the current average market share of electric vehicles (EVs) in new car sales remains low at 3.2% (excluding the EU), with Germany, France, and the UK having the highest shares of EVs.
- Between 2018 and 2019, G20 members provided USD 50.7 billion/year of public finance for fossil fuels. The highest providers of public finance were Japan (USD 10.3 billion/year), China (just over USD 8 billion/year), and South Korea (just under USD 8 billion/year).
Most G20 members also missed opportunities related to leverage COVID-19 recovery packages to promote climate mitigation goals. Only USD 300 billion of the total USD 1.8 trillion in recovery spending went to the much-heralded “green” recovery whilst fossil fuels continue to be subsidised. “It is extremely disappointing that a decade has passed since the commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies was made, but G20 members are still pumping billions of US dollars into dirty fuels, which are causing climate change,” says Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis from Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN) in Argentina. In 2019, G20 members, excluding Saudi Arabia, provided at least USD 152 billion in subsidies for the production and consumption of coal, oil, and gas.
Effective carbon pricing schemes could encourage the transition to a low-carbon economy, according to the authors of the report. However, only 13 G20 members have in place some form of explicit national carbon pricing scheme. Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and Turkey are currently considering introducing such a scheme.
The Climate Transparency Report was developed by 16 research organisations and NGOs from 14 G20 members and compares the adaptation, mitigation, and finance related efforts of the G20; analyses recent policy developments; and identifies climate opportunities that G20 governments can seize. This is the 7th edition of the annual review of G20 climate action.
About Climate Transparency:
Climate Transparency is a global partnership of 16 think tanks and NGOs that brings together experts from the majority of G20 countries. Our mission is to encourage ambitious climate action in the G20 countries: we inform policy makers and stimulate national debate.