G-20 Emissions Outpace Economic Growth for First Time Since 2004

By Catherine Airlie

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) — Greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of production among the Group of 20 nations grew for the first time since 2004 last year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for climate change, from G-20 countries increased 5.8 percent in 2010, a faster rate than the 5.1 percent growth in the group’s gross domestic product, the London-based consultant said in an e-mailed report today.

“The economic recovery, where it has occurred, has been a dirty one,” Jonathan Grant, director of PwC’s sustainability and climate change unit, said.

Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the U.K. led the G-20 in expanding their economies with the most carbon emissions, reversing the trend of decarbonization that had been in place since 2004, according to the report. Britain’s emissions grew nearly three times as fast as its GDP, the report said. Australia, Mexico and Argentina managed to grow their GDP at a faster rate than increasing emissions, the report shows.

Rising carbon intensity has bucked the recent trend of decarbonization partly due to rapid growth of developing economies that started with lower income, according to the report. Cold weather last year spurred energy demand for heating, while cheaper coal compared to natural gas and a slowdown in deployment of renewable energy also helped to cause faster-growing emissions.

Nations have committed to slow pollution from climate-harming gases, in order to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celcius. The G-20 also includes Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union.

There must be a “revolution in the way the world produces and uses energy,” Grant said in the e-mail. “Delaying action to break the link between high carbon and economic growth means that the reductions required in future are steeper, and will be more costly.”

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