Rich countries are far behind schedule in meeting the CO2 emission reductions they have committed to, a new report shows.

Rie Jerichow01/12/2009 15:05
The world’s CO2 equation is not a textbook example. One fifth of the global carbon budget for the first half of this century has been spent in just eight years, the global carbon debt from 2000 till 2008 is roughly equivalent to the combined 2008 emissions of China and the US, and very few of the G20 nations are on track to stay within their carbon budgets for 2000-50, according to a new report by economists and climate change specialists at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

"If you stay on this path, the entire carbon budget will be used by about 2034, about 16 years early," John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC, tells Reuters.

The report is based on the so-called PwC Low Carbon Economy Index that measures the "carbon intensity" – the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per dollar of economic output – rather than the usual yardstick of changes in overall national emissions.

In this century, the world has improved carbon intensity by only about 0.8 percent a year, the report says.

"To get back on track, world carbon intensity would have to fall by about three percent a year, four times the speed at the moment… That shows the policy challenges," says Richard Gledhill, global leader of climate change at PwC, according to Reuters.

The report estimates that China’s rate of cutting carbon intensity was 0.7 percent a year from 2000-08, the United States 2.2 percent, the European Union 1.8 percent and India 2.1 percent. All were lagging the rates set by PwC for their carbon budgets.

To get back on a smooth 2000-based trajectory to a low carbon economy, the world needs to reduce its carbon intensity by around 3.5 percent a year by 2020, or 35 percent cumulatively between 2008 and 2020, and by around 85 percent in total between 2008-2050, the report says.