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2009 RICS Global Carbon Capacity Index

by Mel Starrs on July 1, 2010

in Economics

Fascinating report from RICS – 2009 RICS Global Carbon Capacity Index (28pg, pdf). Whilst I often have rants about the meaningless of the phrase ‘zero-carbon’, I concede we are stuck with it and the goal behind the target is sound (even if the semantics around the phrasing of the target are misguided). Anyway, rant over, lets look at the report.

The executive summary is excellent – does what it is supposed to – summarises the report:

To capture the progress that is being made towards a decarbonised built environment at the national level, RICS commissioned the Environment Institute at University College London to develop a new index: the Global Zero Carbon Capacity Index also known as the ZC2 Index). The purpose of this index is to highlight which countries are developing the capacity to make progress towards the aspirational goal of a zero-carbon built environment.

Reducing the carbon emissions from the built environment – both in terms of energy consumption in the built stock and travel – remains a major priority for the property sector. The ZC2 Index is an innovative measure of how well different countries are performing in terms of moving towards a zero carbon built environment.

The Index is based on three measures of energy consumption (in the residential, tertiary and transport sectors, together with an assessment of the decarbonisation of energy supply through the share of renewables in total production and a count of the extent of the policy portfolio aimed at zero-carbon built environments.

The 2009 run of the ZC2 Index confirmed the leadership of Norway in meeting this challenge. The UK is ranked third after Brazil, moving up from fourth place last year. The fourth and fifth places this year go to China and Australia. New Zealand and India fall out of the top five places this year.

The countries that have made the greatest improvements in their ranking are the Slovak Republic, France, Germany and USA. However, the absolute improvement in Index score for the USA is less than that for the other countries, reflecting less movement in the individual indicators.

Analysis of the data for these ‘improvers’ indicates the importance of concerted action across all elements of the index: that is, significant reductions in energy consumption in the residential, tertiary and transport sectors together with substantial investment in renewable energy infrastructure and continued additions to the policy portfolio of zero-carbon built environment measures.

The Index can also be cross-referenced to performance on reducing the carbon intensity of the economy as a whole. This reveals a group of countries that perform relatively well on the ZC2 Index and on carbon intensity: Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. It is notable that, apart from Brazil, these are all European countries, suggesting that the European Union has been at least facilitating shifts towards low carbon living.

There is a wealth of data in the report. I like the simplicity of the Index and the fact that policy is taken into account as well as hard facts and figures. I’ll be looking out for next years update.