The global effort to cut carbon is ‘falling dangerously short’

14 Nov 2023

Image: © bilanol/

A new report claims the world needs to decarbonise seven times faster than it did last year to limit the rate of global warming.

Far more effort is needed worldwide to limit the impacts of the climate crisis, according to a new report from PwC.

The company’s latest Net Zero Economy Index suggests a year-on-year decarbonisation rate of 17.2pc is now needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This threshold is important as experts have previously said any heating above this level will lead to more harmful impacts for people and the planet.

But this level of decarbonisation is significant, as PwC claims it is seven times greater than what was achieved over the last year and 12 times faster than what the global average of decarbonisation has been for the past two decades.

The report claims that no country from the G20 forum has ever hit a decarbonisation rate of more than 11pc in a single year. The report also suggests the amount of required decarbonisation is rising rapidly, as the percentage was 15.2pc last year instead of the latest figure of 17.2pc.

The report also claims that countries need to reduce their level of carbon intensity by 78pc to meet the IPCC’s 2030 deadline to reduce emissions by 43pc. Carbon intensity relates to how much carbon dioxide is released to serve a particular activity, for example generating energy.

Despite the figures, PwC Ireland ESG leader David McGee said the need for more decarbonisation should be viewed as a “spur to action” instead of a “counsel of despair”.

“While the overall pace has to pick up rapidly, dramatic change is possible when business and policy-makers align,” McGee said.

Meanwhile, the PwC analysis suggests that there was a global surge in renewable energy adoption last year. The report claims solar energy experienced its highest growth ever recorded at 24.4pc, while the adoption of wind energy grew by 13.1pc.

“The rapid acceleration of the deployment of wind and solar in several regions shows change can happen,” McGee said. “The world is decoupling growth from carbon emissions, now we need that trend to become a surge.”

Irish statistics from the index suggest the country is far ahead of the global average when it comes to our use of wind energy. Nearly 16pc of Ireland’s fuel mix was listed as wind in the report, compared to a global average of more than 3pc. However, Ireland relies on gas and oil more for its fuel mix than the global average.

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that Ireland looks set to only reduce emissions by up to 29pc by 2030, even if its climate policies are fully implemented.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic