Brown to Green Report 2016

With climate change high on this year’s G20 agenda, along with green finance, the report “Brown to Green: Assessing the G20 transition to a low-carbon economy” looks at a range of indicators on climate action, including investment attractiveness, investment in renewable energy, climate policy, the carbon intensity of both the energy and electricity sectors of the G20 economies, of their fossil fuel subsidies and their contributions to climate finance.

The G20 needs to make more effort to move to a green, low-carbon economy, especially in the areas of coal power expansion and climate policy, but is beginning to head in the right direction.

  • In terms of investment attractiveness in renewable energy, and energy efficiency, China, India, France and Germany, the US and the UK are rated the highest. However, both France and Germany’s ratings are at risk of dropping. Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have the worst ratings.
  • Coal is the main issue with the carbon intensity of the G20’s energy sector overall, because of the large number of planned new coal-fired power plants that would almost double the G20’s coal capacity. This would make it virtually impossible to keep warming even to 2˚C, let alone “well below 2˚C” or down to 1.5˚C as spelt out in the Paris Agreement.
  • The G20 member states’ pledged climate action is still far from where it needs to be to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. Altogether, the G20 needs to reduce energy-related emissions by six times of what has been pledged so far.
  • There is good news on renewable energy, which has increased by 18% since 2008. However, to be in line with a 2°C trajectory, annual G20 country investment in the power sector alone will, by 2035, have to roughly double from 2000-2013 levels.
  • Fossil fuel subsidies, which the G20 has repeatedly committed to removing (since 2009), continue to be high. In the developed countries their fossil fuel subsidies are, without exception, substantially above the money they have committed to climate finance.
  • Energy-related emissions per capita, currently averaging across the G20 at 5.7tC02e/y per person, has decreased slightly, but needs to drop right back to 1-3tC02e/y per person by 2050 to keep on a below 2˚C warming trajectory.
  • G20 economies’ energy intensity and carbon intensity are both decreasing, but not enough to compensate for the increase in economic activity, therefore showing an overall increase in both energy-related CO2 emissions and primary energy.



The “Brown to Green” Report draws on publicly available information and makes use of the assessment work of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) (operated by NewClimate Institute, Climate Analytics, Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), Germanwatch’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). It summarises and compares the findings presented in each G20 country profile.


Country Profiles

The Country Profiles portray climate action by all G20 countries. Four main categories are covered i) Emissions; ii) Decarbonisation; iii) Climate policy performance and iv) Financing the transition.


G20 Graphs

The graphs on G20 climate performance depicted in the “Brown to Green” Report may be freely reused and distributed provided that copyrights are adequately mentioned.