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G20 countries ‘fail to make the grade’ on Paris promises – BNEF

The world’s largest economies are still failing to meet the targets set at the COP21 conference in Paris nearly six years ago, according to new research from BloombergNEF (BNEF). This analysis comes some eight months ahead of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, where governments are meant to up their carbon reduction ambitions. 

BNEF’s G20 Zero-Carbon Policy Scoreboard evaluates the decarbonisation policies of the G20 group – which includes 19 individual countries plus the European Union. Analysts found that much of the carbon dioxide reduction progress achieved to date has come from the power sector – all of the countries evaluated in the report have introduced some government support to promote clean electricity. 

The countries covered in the report were scored out of 100% based on 122 qualitative and quantitative metrics relating to the number, robustness and effectiveness of policies implemented. Overall, Germany and France were rated highest for having the best policy mixes to spur decarbonisation, but the study found that even they still have room for improvement.

The UK, Japan and South Korea complete the top quartile, with BNEF analysts noting that these nations have all introduced supply and demand-side policies. They all price greenhouse gas emissions or tax fossil fuel consumption, though the Scoreboard notes that ‘none of their policies in these regards is perfect.’

To realise the goals of the Paris Agreement, the G20 must pay more attention to the buildings and industry sectors.

‘While some power sector policies have delivered results, most countries have done little elsewhere in the economy,’ says Victoria Cuming, Head of Global Policy Analysis for BNEF. ‘And even within each sector, it’s not enough to implement incentives for one technology – multiple pathways are required.’

The report notes that the countries in the second quartile – Italy, Canada, China, the US and Australia – all have strong decarbonisation policies in at least one sector. More specifically, the US ranks first for fossil fuel decarbonisation, while China is tied with France and Germany for progress in transport. However, with an average score of 50% among them, the second quartile countries have ‘incomplete’ policy mixes, meaning they have yet to promote decarbonisation in some areas. 

Those in the bottom quartile – Argentina, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Russia – have ‘significant room for improvement’ according to BNEF. Their average score of just 28% reflects ‘a dearth of measures in place’. They have done the most in power, but even those policies are often hampered by delays or overly stringent rules on participation. These countries have also done little to nothing to decarbonise their transport, industry, and buildings sectors.

‘The high-level pledges over the last year, in particular, have been impressive with major economies such as the EU, Japan, South Korea and China all promising to get to net zero emissions or carbon neutrality at some future date,’ says Cuming. ‘But the reality is that countries simply haven’t done enough at home with follow-through policies to meet even the promises made more than five years ago.’

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