UK leading G20 on decarbonisation

Report finds UK has outperformed China, US and EU on reducing emissions since 2000

A drop in coal consumption and improved energy efficiency helped the UK achieve the fastest rate of decarbonisation among all G20 countries last year.

Analysis by PwC has shown that the UK achieved a decarbonisation rate of 7.7% in 2016, almost three times the global average of 2.6% and putting it top of the audit firm’s Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI).

The UK has also outperformed China, the US and other EU nations in its average carbon reduction since 2000, according to PwC, falling an average of 3.7% a year since the turn of the century.

China, the world’s largest emitter, was ranked second on the LCEI in 2016, having reduced carbon intensity by 6.5%.

Energy related emissions in the UK were 6% down in 2016, driven by a dramatic fall in coal consumption. In fact, coal consumption halved in 2016, with the fuel now representing just 7% of the country’s total energy consumption, down from 23% in 2012. 

Energy demand fell by 1.4% as the UK continued to make improvements to energy efficiency in buildings, vehicles and appliances.

PwC also found that that there has been a 13% total reduction in energy consumption since 2000, despite the UK economy growing by 31 % in the same period.

Jonathan Grant, director of climate change at PwC and co-author of the LCEI, said: “The UK’s success comes down to policies creating a pretty positive investment climate for low carbon technology and the strength of our services sectors. A number of factors have contributed to the low carbon transition in the UK, including cross-party support for tackling climate change, support for energy efficiency in our homes and renewables projects. An EU-wide carbon price along with the UK’s carbon price floor and institutions like the Green Investment Bank have also helped.

“We’re using less coal and investing in more renewable power. However this transition away from coal is now nearly complete. The UK now needs to tackle other parts of the economy – whether it’s increasing renewables or efficiency improvements – in order to maintain its position as a climate leader.

“Despite strong performances in reducing carbon emissions particularly within the electricity sector, the UK continues to rely on oil and gas. Tackling transport emissions and heating and cooling will be the next big challenges.”