The Brown to Green Report 2017 by Climate Transparency provides a comprehensive overview of the G20 countries, whether – and how well – they are doing on the journey to transition to a low-carbon economy. It assesses the main trends for the G20 in emissions, climate policy performance, finance, and decarbonisation. The report summarises and compares the findings presented in Climate Transparency’s country profiles for each G20 country (incl. the EU). Findings are based on publicly available data by renowned institutions.



  • The report’s G20 decarbonisation ratings overall are mixed: the EU and its G20 member states get good ratings overall, while Russia is rated low, with Australia very low.
  • Renewable energy is on the rise. The G20 countries are already home to 98% of global installed capacity of wind power, 97% of solar power and 93% of electric vehicles. In most G20 countries, renewables as part of the energy supply are growing, except in Russia, where absolute renewable energy supply has decreased by 20% since 2009.  China, the Republic of Korea, Turkey and the UK have all experienced strong growth.
  • The G20 countries’ greenhouse gas emissions grew by 34% between 1990 and 2014. Yet, in the same period their economies grew more, by nearly 117%, demonstrating that they are using energy resources more efficiently than in the past.
  • The carbon intensity of the G20 total primary energy supply is still rising. This is largely due to most of the G20 countries meeting their increasing energy needs with coal.  While the G20 economy’s overall energy and carbon intensity have both decreased, energy consumption and higher efficiency has not been sufficient to lead to an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In half of the G20, greenhouse gas emissions per capita are no longer rising. Canada has the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita, followed by Saudi Arabia, Australia and the US.

Finance highlights

  • G20 countries are attractive for renewable energy investment, especially China, France, Germany and the UK, although the UK has now abandoned its policy support for renewables.
  • Green bonds constitute less than 1% of each G20 country’s debt market, but recent growth rates are remarkable, particularly in China.
  • In 2016, more “green” than “brown” electricity generation capacity was installed worldwide. Yet, there is still substantial public and private investment in G20 countries into “brown” energy infrastructure;
  • Between 2013 and 2014, the G20 countries’ public finance institutions such as national and international development banks, majority state-owned banks and export credit agencies, spent an average of almost USD 88 billion a year on coal, oil and gas.
  • Despite their repeated commitment to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, in 2014, the G20 countries provided a total of over USD 230 billion subsidies to coal, oil and gas.
  • Among G20 countries, the highest levels of public finance for fossil fuels come from Japan and China, who provided about USD 19 billion and USD 17 billion a year between 2013 and 2014, respectively.
  • More carbon pricing mechanisms have been introduced in recent years. Carbon prices and effective carbon rates, which take into account various energy taxes, still remain too low in G20 countries to encourage a substantial shift to a low-carbon economy.

Policy highlights

  • Most governments perform better on the international stage, but still lack progress on national policy and implementation. China, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa are ranked the highest for climate action. Countries with the lowest climate policy performance ranking are the US, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
  • None of the G20 countries score particularly highly on their Paris Agreement Pledges.  None of them are on a 2˚C or 1.5˚C emissions pathway.
  • Coal is being phased out in some countries. Canada, France and the UK have established a plan for a coal phase-out (ranked high). Other countries, Germany, Italy and Mexico, are currently considering phasing out coal, or have taken significant action to reduce coal. India and China are ranked medium for their recent closure of - or cancellation of plans for - a number of coal plants.

Climate Transparency is an international partnership that brings together experts from Argentina (Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), Brazil (CentroClima/COPPE UFRJ), China (Energy Research Institute), France (The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations), Germany (Germanwatch, HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform, NewClimate Institute), India (The Energy and Resources Institute), Indonesia (Institute for Essential Service Reform), Mexico (Initiativa Climática de México), South Africa (Energy Research Center/University of Cape Town) and the UK (Overseas Development Institute). The Brown to Green report was made possible through support from the Stiftung Mercator, the World Bank and the European Climate Foundation.

Country Profiles

The Country Profiles portray climate action by all G20 countries:

Internet Explorer is no longer supported