PwC-too-late-for-two-degreesA damning new analysis by PwC warns that a 6°C warming is increasingly likely at current rates of decarbonisation.  The report from the PwC Low Carbon Economy Index 2012, is called ‘Too late for two degrees’. In a rather understated way it shows that that warming may be 4°C higher than the scientifically regarded ‘safe level’ of 2°C, and how this will have a huge impact on certain businesses.

The annually produced ‘Low Carbon Economic Index’ highlights the need for businesses and governments to include 4°C and 6°C scenarios into their planning.

Coming just weeks before the UN Climate Summit in Doha, the findings draw into critique global efforts in combating climate change.  Current government ambitions to stop warming rising above 2°C seem unrealistic in light of this new report.  PwC outlines that in order to keep the temperature rise below 2°C, the world would have to decarbonise at a rate of 5.2% annually until 2050.  In the UK, that would be equivalent to shutting down all current coal-fired power plants.  Rates of decarbonisation at such a level have not occurred since WW2.

However, rather than aiming to ‘scaremonger’, PwC is simply pointing out the mathematics of the situation in the hope that governments and businesses can forecast accordingly.   The report stresses the need to form comprehensive plans to adapt to future warming.  This indicates a predictable shift in policy focus from mitigation to adaptation.

How businesses can prepare for climate chaos?

The industries hit the hardest will be those in carbon intensive sectors and those with investments in climatically fragile zones. Investors in low-lying or coastal areas especially must consider more pessimistic climatic scenarios.  Carbon intensive sectors may have to anticipate more invasive carbon regulations in the future.

Those sectors dependant on water, energy, food and other such ecosystem services need to examine their viability.  In the latter case, it not only means planning for disruptions in the supply of input materials caused by climatic events.  It also means assessing the resilience and security of their inputs.

The report highlights the importance of ‘resilience’ as a term that will become increasingly relevant in assessing future viability. It does not advocate a ‘sit-back and wait’ approach.  It has strong recommendations for the uptake of renewable energy and industrial emissions reductions.  It advises the continuation of mitigation by companies whilst preparing for adaptation.  With a sobering sense of realism, it tells the science how it is and advises the business world to be ready for change.

A highly recommended read!

About the author

acacia-smithAcacia Smith is a New Zealander now based in London. She holds a bachelor degree and postgraduate diploma from Victoria University of Wellington. She has worked for the Council for International Development (CID) and more recently in Bolivia for CIWY, a network of private parks for the rehabilitation and conservation of Amazonian fauna. Acacia is passionate about sustainability and the role businesses can play in promoting a better, more sustainable future