Carbon Emissions Continue To Increase in Rich Countries

According to a new study, carbon emissions are rebounding strongly and growing in the world’s 20 wealthiest countries.

According to the Climate Transparency Report, CO2 levels would rise by 4% across the G20 this year, after falling by 6% in 2020 owing to the pandemic. China, India, and Argentina are on track to exceed their emissions targets for 2019. The continuous use of fossil fuels, according to the authors, is weakening efforts to keep temperatures in check. With only two weeks until the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, negotiators face a daunting challenge. One of the gathering’s main objectives is to take action to maintain the crucial 1.5°C temperature threshold alive and well.

Limiting future incremental rises is particularly difficult given that the earth is now roughly 1.1C warmer than pre-industrial times. If Glasgow succeeds on this issue, the countries that produce the most carbon will need to implement aggressive policies. But, according to the evidence in this new report, it isn’t occurring quickly enough.

The G20 accounts for over 75% of global emissions, which decreased dramatically last year when economies shut down in response to Covid-19. However, fossil fuels, particularly coal, are driving this year’s rebound.

Coal use is expected to climb by 5% this year across the G20, according to a report produced by 16 research organisations and environmental campaign groups. This is primarily due to China, which accounts for roughly 60% of the surge, although increases in coal are also occurring in the United States and India. As the global economy has recovered, China’s need for energy has soared, resulting in a surge in coal use.

Coal prices are roughly 200 per cent higher than they were a year ago. As a result, power cutbacks have occurred as coal-fired power facilities have become uneconomical to operate in recent months. The Chinese government announced a policy shift this week that will allow these power facilities to charge market rates for their electricity, which is expected to boost coal use even more, this year.

In the period 2015-2020, the Climate Transparency Report indicates that gas use increased by 12% across the G20. Therefore, if climate change is to be controlled, the COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow in November is viewed as critical. Nearly 200 countries have been requested to submit plans to reduce emissions, resulting in significant changes in our daily lives.

While political leaders have claimed that the global recovery from Covid will be environmentally friendly, rich countries’ financial pledges do not support this. Only $300 billion of the $1.8 trillion set up for recovery investment will be spent on green projects. To put that number in context, it is nearly equal to the $298 billion spent by G20 countries on fossil fuel subsidies in the eighteen months leading up to August 2021.

The report also highlights some encouraging trends, such as the rise of solar and wind energy in developed countries, with record quantities of new capacity built across the G20 last year. As a result, Renewables now account for roughly 12% of total power generation, up from 10% in 2020.

Politically, the G20 group has made significant headway, with the majority recognising that net-zero targets are required by the middle of this century.

Before the Glasgow summit, all members of the group have agreed to put new 2030 carbon policies on the table. On the other hand, China, India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have yet to do so.

“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,” Climate Analytics’ Kim Coetzee, who oversaw the overall investigation, said.

Both India and China are expected to submit new national plans before the summit in Glasgow, which may significantly boost efforts to attain the 1.5°C goals.

In the days running up to COP26, the G20 group will convene in Rome, and the UK minister who will head the negotiations has recently asked the leaders of these countries to step up.

“It is leaders who made a promise to the world in Paris six years ago, and it is leaders that must honour it,” Alok Sharma remarked. “Responsibility rests with each and every country, and we must all play our part. Because on climate, the world will succeed or fail, as one.”