Tuesday 19 November 2019 12:01 am

UK tops G20 for decarbonisation rate but it won't be enough

The UK has the fastest decarbonisation rate of the G20 countries since 2000, according to PwC’s low carbon economy index, which was released this morning.

However, the UK’s annual rate of 3.7 per cent is well short of the 9.7 per cent that is required if the UK is to achieve its 2050 net zero emissions pledge.

Read more: UK passes law to slash greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050

The report finds that the majority of the UK’s reduction in emissions have come from the phase-out coal, a process that can only be done once.


During the peak of the coal phase-out between 2012 and 2016, the UK averaged a decarbonisation rate of 6.9 per cent.

2014 was the only year that the UK achieved the 9.7 per cent rate required to hit the 2050 targets.

The analysis warns that outside of the power and industry sectors, the UK is making limited progress in achieving its target, which will require dramatic changes to every part of the UK’s economy.

Dr Celine Herweijer, partner and global climate change leader at PwC, said: “Achieving net zero will require companies across all sectors to transform, drive innovation and grow whilst managing transition risks. 

“This needs to happen at scale and speed over the coming two to three business cycles. It’s one thing for leading companies to set ambitious targets, but the ability to meet these will need strong government action to stimulate new market solutions.  

“Regulatory intervention will be key to helping many technologies and business models reach critical lift-off point. From research and development and clean infrastructure investment, to carbon pricing, tax incentives, and redirecting of subsidies; policy ambition in the UK needs to go hand in hand with business ambition.” 

However, businesses are adopting climate commitments in increasing numbers, with over a hundred declaring net zero targets by 2050. 


A thousand more have signed up to initiatives such as Science Based Targets and RE100.

The report comes the same day as the Energy Networks Association launches a manifesto calling on political leaders to take “bold action to achieve net zero.”

The industry body says that the UK economy will need to spend between one to per cent of its wealth to achieve emissions targets by 2050.

It adds that in order to do so the UK must ensure it continues to attract billions of pounds of private investment to deliver the innovation necessary to power the change.

Read more: Just one in ten energy suppliers have made net zero plans

In November 2020, the UK will host the UN’s climate change conference in Glasgow. Kiran Sura, assistant director in the sustainability and climate change team at PwC, said:

“With the UK hosting COP26 in Glasgow in 2020, the country’s actions will be under close scrutiny and there will be nowhere to hide if we fall short of doing our part.” 

Main image credit: Getty

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