Most power utilities are out of step with the goals of the Paris Agreement, with only Orsted, EDP and Enel on course to meet targets that are aligned with the ambitions set at the landmark 2015 climate summit, claimed a study of 50 of the world’s biggest electricity groups.

With the electricity sector expected to lead the world’s decarbonisation efforts, the World Benchmarking Alliance ( WBA) claims an alarming 60% are still locked into reliance on coal, gas and oil, with either no, or inadequate, decarbonisation strategies in place.

Only global offshore wind giant Orsted, which came first in the rankings, European utilities Enel and EDP, and America’s AES have “defined a clear target to provide green energy aligned to the Paris Agreement,” claimed the WBA, which measures business performance against UN sustainability goals.

Only the first three are actually on track to meet their own targets, the WBA reckoned as it declared the utility sector just 10% 'Paris-aligned' overall.

Of the others, groups such as Vattenfall, Iberdrola and E.ON have set carbon-neutral targets, but the study deems them inadequate to meet emissons reductions under the IEA’s Beyond Two-Degrees scenario, which sets a pathway to negative emissions for the utility sector by 2050.

The climate credentials of two-thirds of the utilities benchmarked will actually get worse in the short-term, the WBA reckons in the study published in conjunction with non-profit body CDP and French energy transition agency ADEME.

The report reckons 35 will fail to meet their carbon budgets unless they accelerate decarbonisation plans. The vast majority – 97% – of the excess emissions from the 50 come from just 10 companies based in China, India and Egypt, it added.

"This sector is often seen as the ‘great enabler’ to cleaner green energy use across transport, real estate and industry,” said the WBA’s Charlotte Hugman, who helped compile the benchmark. “But for too long the sector has been content with making small reductions in the carbon intensity of electricity production. This could mean lights out for the Paris Agreement.”