Governments took a step towards greener economic growth in 2014 but will need to do far more to limit rising temperatures to a United Nations goal of two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), a study by accountancy firm PwC said on Monday.
The carbon intensity of the world economy - the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) - fell by 2.7 per cent in 2014, the steepest decline since PwC started issuing reports seven years ago, it said.
“The 2014 numbers suggest a turning point” towards making growth less dependent on fossil fuels, said PwC, a network of firms in 157 countries in assurance, advisory and tax services.
World GDP rose by 3.2 per cent in 2014, while carbon emissions rose by just 0.5 per cent, it said.
Britain was best of the Group of 20 nations with a steep 10.9 per cent fall in its carbon intensity last year, a shift PwC linked to strong economic growth, a warmer winter that reduced energy demand and lower use of coal.
You need revolutions in the energy sector in every country, every decade.
Jonathan Grant, PwC sustainability and climate change director
France, Italy and Germany also had big falls in carbon intensity last year.
Almost 200 governments will meet in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 30 to agree a pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, that are blamed by a UN panel for causing downpours, heat waves and rising seas.
PwC said the rate of decarbonisation needed to more than double, to 6.3 per cent a year, to get on track to limit rising temperatures to a UN target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.
That would be a wrenching pace of change. Even in Germany in the 1990s, when inefficient Soviet-style factories were shut in the east after reunification, decarbonisation rates were only about 3 per cent a year, the report said.
“You need revolutions in the energy sector in every country, every decade,” Jonathan Grant, PwC sustainability and climate change director, told Reuters.
Since the year 2000, the report said that global carbon intensity had fallen by an average 1.3 per cent a year. At that rate, PwC estimated that the amount of carbon that could be emitted before exceeding 2C would run out in 2036.