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From IISD's SDG Knowledge Hub

14 November 2018: Eighty-two percent of the G20’s energy supply still comes from fossil fuels, according to a Climate Transparency report titled, ‘Brown to Green: The G20 Transition to a Low-carbon Economy 2018.’ The publication assesses how far G20 countries have progressed in their transition from a “brown” economy based on fossil fuels to a “green,” low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.

In Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan, for example, fossil fuels still comprise more than 90% of the energy supply, according to the report. The authors argue that the G20 economies must cut their emissions by half by 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, given that they account for 80% of global emissions. They lament that G20 countries continue to “pour money” into factors such as fossil fuel subsidies that drive climate disruption, with Saudi Arabia, Italy, Australia and Brazil providing the highest amount of subsidies per gross domestic product (GDP).

The report draws on emissions data from 2017, and covers 80 indicators around emissions, decarbonization, climate policies, finance and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. It presents summaries and sectoral comparisons at the overall G20 level as well as at the country level. The report identifies G20 leaders and laggards in sectoral performances, and points to the power and transport sectors as those requiring the most urgent climate action. The report also assesses the buildings, industry and forestry sector.

The NDCs of the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would lead to warming that exceeds 4°C.

Most G20 countries spend more on fossil fuel subsidies than they receive in public revenues from carbon pricing, according to the report, with fossil fuel subsidies increasing from US$75 billion to US$147 billion between 2007 and 2016. Canada and France, however, generated more from carbon pricing in 2017 than what they spent on fossil fuel subsidies in 2016.

Regarding meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, none of the G20 economies’ climate pledges are on a 1.5°C-compatible pathway, although India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is the most ambitious and closest to the 1.5°C limit. The NDCs of the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the report warns, would lead to warming that exceeds 4°C.

The report describes the efforts of several G20 countries on transition towards greener economies, highlighting national or regional initiatives in Australia, Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, Indonesia, South Africa and the US.

The publication consists of a summary report and in-depth country profiles for each G20 country, as well as a technical note on data sources and methodology. This is the fourth edition of the ‘Brown to Green Report,’ which is an annual review of G20 climate action and its transition to a low-carbon economy. Climate Transparency is a global partnership that aims to stimulate a “race to the top” in G20 climate action and shift investments towards zero-carbon technologies through enhanced transparency. [Publication: Brown to Green: The G20 Transition to a Low-carbon Economy 2018] [Technical Note] [Publication Landing Page and Links to Country Profiles] [New Climate Institute Press Release] [Climate Transparency Press Release on Finance]