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G20 fail to stop global warming: PwC

Global warming is expected to progress fast as the global economy has repeatedly missed carbon reduction targets, PwC UK has warned.

According to PwC climate change analysts, the world economy reduced its energy-related carbon intensity, meaning carbon emissions in relation to GDP, by 1.2% in 2013 and by 0.6% since 2008.

"With such limited progress in decoupling emissions growth from GDP growth, the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown," PwC said.

The research demonstrates a disconnect between the global climate negotiations aiming for a 2°C limit on global warming and the actual achieved reduction rates.

"After a decade of carbon inertia, we are way behind, and now need to decarbonise at more than five times our current rate to avoid 2°C," PwC sustainability and climate partner Leo Johnson said.

PwC estimates that a carbon reduction rate of 6.2% every year from now to 2100 is needed to restrain global warming to 2°C by 2100. The actual carbon intensity ratio of 1.2% leads to a 4 degrees warmer world end of the century, the report warned.

Key economies pledged less ambitious reduction targets that would lead towards a 3°C warming by 2100, but most economies did not achieve to reduce their carbon emissions accordingly.

Five countries (France, US, India, Germany and Brazil) out of the G20 even increased their carbon intensity over 2013.

"Making up for the inadequacy to date will be technologically harder, financially costlier, and climactically riskier in the future," Johnson warned.

"A broader recognition is needed by both business and political leaders that taking decisive action to avoid the extremes of climate change is a pre-condition for sustained economic growth," PwC sustainability and climate change director Jonathan Grant added.

However, the analysis also showed encouraging signs, revealing that Australia recorded a decarbonisation rate of 7.2% over 2013, and the UK, Italy and China achieved a decarbonisation rate of between 4% and 5%.

"There are reasons for optimism," Johnson concluded. "The E7 has woken up to the business logic of green growth, decarbonising faster than the G7 for the first recorded time." According to PwC, this goes to show how it can be possible to maintain economic growth while slowing the rate of growth in emissions.

A second reason for optimism highlighted by PwC is the growing renewable energy market. The research found renewable electricity generation growing by 16% in 2013.

"As renewables approach cost parity the stage is set for a policy framework that shifts subsidies away from fossil fuels and accelerates the renewables rollout," Johnson said.

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