The 2014 Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI) calculates the rate of decarbonization of the global economy. Per the UN’s 2009 climate summit, nations are supposed to curb their emissions enough to limit global warming to 2°C by 2100. According to PwC’s report, emissions are being curbed, but not enough to make the 2100 deadline. In fact, the planet will fall well short of that.
As the report explains, “Emissions per unit of GDP fell in 2013 by 1.2%, marginally better than the average decrease of 0.9% since 2000. But 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, for the sixth year running.”
The 2°C limit was set to prevent the worst effects of climate change: Drought, food shortages, coastal flooding, species extinction and extreme weather events. Many of these impacts are already being felt across the world, and they will only increase in severity as nations continue to emit greenhouse gases that warm the atmosphere.
Between 2000 and 2013, the world only cut its yearly carbon intensity by an average 0.9 percent. According to PwC, which measures carbon intensity by calculating the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per million dollars of economic activity, that rate needs to ramp up to 6.2 percent per year if the 2°C limit is to be reached.
Even the most optimistic emission caps make that a remote possibility. Upcoming summits in New York and Paris are intended to craft an international consensus on climate change, but an analysis of G7 and E7 commitments shows that, currently, the sum of these countries pledges “is insufficient to meet the global decarbonization targets needed for two degrees.”
If nations do nothing, this century will go over its carbon budget 66 years ahead of schedule, in 2034. In that scenario, according to the latest data from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures will rise by 4°C by the end of the century.