News Release

New carbon budgets for G20 members set a hard limit for a soft landing

Reports and Proceedings

University of Technology Sydney

Ahead of the G20 summit in Delhi, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) has released detailed guidance for G20 members to limit global warming to +1.5˚C.

UTS researchers have devised current decarbonisation pathways for each G20 country and the EU27 region, using technically high-resolution energy scenarios. The scenarios are the first and most detailed of their kind, with each pathway broken down into sub-pathways for 19 industry and service sectors.

The pathways and an accompanying global scenario were created using the One Earth Climate Model (OECM), which has been developed by UTS researchers over the past five years.

Per Capita Carbon Index: the fair way to net zero

Shared climate action is crucial for meeting emissions targets but attempts to enact a coordinated approach have been stymied by disagreements among countries, based on the perception of fairness. Developing and smaller countries, and those who have contributed less emissions, are hesitant to agree to uniform action, and so the UTS team took this into account when devising their decarbonisation pathways.

Instead of increasing carbon budgets for these countries, which would jeopardise meeting the +1.5˚C target, the researchers considered each country’s historical CO2 emissions (from industrialisation to 2022) as well as their population size.

The result is the world’s first Per Capita Carbon Index – a benchmark for future emissions and a tool for determining the financial and logistical support mechanisms all countries will need to accelerate their transition to renewable energy.

The Per Capita Carbon Index, therefore, can serve the dual function of informing necessary policy and kickstarting on-the-ground action towards reaching net zero.

ISF Research Director Associate Professor Sven Teske says, “This carbon budget is a hard limit for a soft landing. As climate impacts worsen and multilateral climate action struggles to meet targets, our new Per Capita Carbon Index provides clear indicators to achieve fair global decarbonization just in time for the UNFCCC's Global Stocktake. 

“It first sets out what must happen in G20 economies across all sectors and contains a clear ask to adopt the Carbon Index. Our research shows that we have the technological and economical tools to remain within this budget and achieve our climate goals.”

All country pathways, solar and wind potential for G20 members and interactive country maps are available on the One Earth Climate Model website:

Key points

  • The G20 brings together the world’s major economies. Its members represent 85% of global GDP, 75% of international trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population
  • Mexico, China, Argentina, Turkey, India and Indonesia are sitting below their fair carbon budgets.
  • The US, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia have exceeded their fair carbon budgets.
  • Australia ranges within the G20 top five per capita emitters – both historically and currently – but, due to our relatively small population, we are not among the largest emitters regarding total emissions.
  • Australia plays a major role in decarbonising the world’s primary feedstock supply – we are the world’s largest global coal supplier and supply 26% of the bauxite and 56% of the iron ore that fuels the global aluminium and steel industries.

About ISF

The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) is an independent research institute within the University of Technology Sydney. ISF conducts transdisciplinary, project-based research in line with its vision of creating positive change towards sustainable futures.

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