Climate Transparency releases its “Brown to Green” report

Ahead of the G20 Summit in Argentina and COP24 in Poland, Climate Transparency has released its 4th “Brown to Green” report.

The Brown to Green Report 2018 is the world’s most comprehensive review of G20 climate action. It provides concise and comparable information on G20 country mitigation action, finance and vulnerability.

It has been developed by experts from 14 research organisations and NGOs from the majority of the G20 countries, the report covers 80 indicators. It informs policy makers and stimulates national debates.

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Key findings

  • None of the G20 economies’ climate pledges are on a 1.5˚C-compatible pathway, with only India coming close, at a 2˚C-compatible pathway. The world is still heading to a warming of 3.2°C. G20 countries must roughly halve their emissions by 2030, but few have longer term reduction strategies to achieve this. Saudi Arabia, Australia and Russia are lagging behind.

Power Sector

  • In the power sector, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia have the G20’s highest emissions intensity due to a very high share of fossil fuels. However, none of these countries have adequate policies to phase out coal, but South Africa has recently published a plan to reduce its use of coal. 14 countries of the G20 countries need a coal phase-out plan. Canada, France, Italy and the United Kingdom have set phase-out dates, but they do not use much coal.
  • No G20 country has a 100% renewable energy target by 2050 in place. Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa and the United Kingdom are rated high for their renewable energy targets and policies.

Transport Sector

  • On transport, France, Japan and the United Kingdom lead with phase-out plans for fossil fuel cars. Despite ambitious targets, however, France’s emissions in the transport sector continue to increase because of an increasing demand for mobility as well as insufficient policies, e.g. to effectively conduct a modal shift in freight transportation. At the bottom of the leader board are the United States, Canada and Australia, who all have the highest transport emissions per capita and either insufficient – or no – emissions standards for cars.

Building Sector

  • The European Union is the only G20 economy with a plan for a 1.5˚C-compatible buildings sector. While Canada and Germany have the highest emissions-intensity for buildings, they have both targets to make all new buildings zero-energy.

Industry Sector

  • In the industry sector, the European Union is the only real leader on emissions reduction policies. South Africa, Russia and China have the highest emissions intensity in the sector. It is worth noting that developed country emissions would be around 10-20% higher if the emissions from energy-intensive goods produced elsewhere were considered.


  • On forestry, Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina have the highest forest loss in the G20 since 1990, and none show any signs of reversing this trend.


  • Many G20 governments are putting policies in place to green the financial system and re-direct finance towards low carbon, climate resilient development. However, few have joined these green plans up with systematically phasing out or redirecting “brown” financing.
  • Only Canada and France generated more from carbon pricing in 2017 than what they spent on fossil fuel subsidies in 2016. Canada’s carbon pricing schemes are under legal challenge in several provinces.