Denmark, Britain top global league for climate measures: report

LONDON (Reuters) - Denmark and Britain are the top countries when it comes to implementing measures to fight climate change, although Britain has lagged in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, a report published by academics said on Wednesday.

Smog surrounds The Shard and St Paul's Cathedral in London, Britain, April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

The report was launched as delegates from more than 190 nations meet in Poland to flesh out how to reach commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius this century.

Denmark, Britain and Canada have made the most progress in transforming their energy sectors toward meeting the targets, said the report by researchers from Britain’s Imperial College, commissioned by British power generator Drax.

“We researched how the world is progressing on uptake of the five key technologies and measures needed to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius. This reveals Denmark, UK and Canada to be world leading,” said Imperial’s Iain Staffell.

The five technologies are clean power, fossil fuels, electric vehicles, capacity for carbon storage, and energy efficiency of households, buildings and transport.

Denmark has decarbonised its electricity sector, moving away from coal, installing renewables and reducing fossil fuel subsidies by 90 percent over the last decade.

Britain has invested heavily in offshore wind and plans to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2025.

Canada has also installed renewables and is building facilities to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions.

The report assessed the climate change measures of 25 major countries, including all of the G7 and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which together represent 80 percent of the world’s population and 73 percent of its carbon emissions.

Britain, however, remained the sixth largest subsidizer of fossil fuels among the 25 countries, the report showed, based on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) up until 2016.

According to the OECD definition of a fossil fuel subsidy - which includes direct expenditures by governments, foregone tax revenues and other concessions - Britain’s fossil fuel support amounted to around 10 billion pounds ($13 billion) a year.

Coal has provided two-fifths of the world’s electricity for the past 30 years, barely changing over the last decade as the falling share in most developed countries is being countered by growing electricity demand in coal-reliant Asian countries, the report said.

($1 = 0.7858 pounds)

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Mark Potter