Energy emissions on decline as renewables grow across G20 members. But a significant proportion of pandemic recovery packages is going to fossil fuel industries without climate conditions, risking clean energy opportunities in the coming decade. This is one of the key findings of the 2020 Climate Transparency Report, – the world’s most comprehensive annual review of G20 countries’ climate action and their transition to a net zero emissions economy.


2019 has seen a remarkable departure from the long-term growth trend in energy-related emissions and a stable expansion of renewables in the G20. But researchers caution that by providing unconditional support to fossil fuels, governments recovery responses risk reversing, instead of locking in, positive pre-COVID trends.

At least 19 of the G20 countries have chosen to provide financial support to their domestic oil, coal and/or gas sectors and 14 countries bailed out their national airline companies without climate conditions attached. Only four G20 countries provided more funding to green sectors compared to fossil fuel or other emissions-intensive industries.

“The recovery packages can solve the climate crisis or make it worse,” says Dr. Charlene Watson of the Overseas Development Institute. “Some G20 members like the EU, France or Germany are setting mostly a good example for building more resilient economies whilst shielding themselves against the accelerating climate impacts. Others direct too much support to fossil fuels, putting at risk positive recent developments.”

Key figures:

  • In 2019, energy-related CO2 emissions declined in G20 countries for the first time due to climate policies rather than due to external shocks (such as the 2008/09 financial crisis), namely by 0.1%, down from a 1.9% growth in 2018.
  • Due to the impacts of the pandemic, G20 energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to be 7.5% lower by the end of 2020 compared with 2019. Most notably, global aviation emissions collapsed this year.
  • The share of renewable energy in power generation increased in 19 of the G20 countries in 2019, accounting for 27% of power generation in the G20. It is projected to continue increasing in all G20 countries and will likely make up almost 28% of power generation in 2020.
  • Coal consumption decreased by 2%. Notably, only five G20 members have set targets to phase out coal.
  • Growth in building emissions slowed in 2019 (+0.9%) compared to 2018 (+3.2%).
  • Emissions in transport (+1.5%) and industry (+1.2%) both saw continued growth in the G20 in 2019.