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PwC: net-zero hopes rest on fivefold global decarbonisation ramp up

According to PwC’s recently published Net Zero Economy Index, at the current rate of energy consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions, the global carbon budget for the entire century will be exhausted by the end of this decade. Unless the world begins to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement will slip out of reach.

The analysis highlights that achieving global net-zero carbon emissions would require a decarbonisation rate of 11.7 per cent per year, which is nearly five times higher than the rate achieved by 2020.

Moving to a 1.5°C pathway requires stronger ambitions and accelerated implementation at a global scale. As the world is struggling to overcome the cascading effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and governments decide about huge stimulus packages to build back their economies, a return to business as usual emissions post-pandemic is not an option, underlined PwC.

In 2020 a number of businesses, investors and governments have committed to achieving ambitious net zero emissions targets, however, data suggests that the pace of change is too slow and if we do not make progress on decarbonisation now, we risk to put the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in jeopardy.

“With a view out beyond the current crisis, arguably the greatest transformation challenge humankind has faced is staring at us: we have just over two business cycles to transform every sector of the global economy to halve global emissions, put simply, we are in the pivotal decade,” said Dr Celine Herweijer Partner and PwC Global Climate Change Leader at PwC UK.

The UN’s Emission Gap Report published in December, also found that despite a brief dip in CO2 emissions caused by the pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century.

However, a low-carbon pandemic recovery could cut 25 per cent off the greenhouse emissions expected in 2030, based on policies in place before COVID-19. Such a recovery would far outstrip savings foreseen with the implementation of unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and put the world close to the 2°C pathway.

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