Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Climate Change Performance Index

Today is Wednesday, December 4, 2013.

Last month, the Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, a public policy think tank, released their annual Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), a report that assesses how individual countries are contributing to the global carbon problem, and how much they're trying to do about it.  Fifty-eight countries contribute 90 percent of the world's carbon emissions from fossil energy use.  Countries are ranked on the basis of their emissions trends, energy efficiency, progress on renewable energy, and overall climate policies. 

This year, the ranks of first, second and third were kept open, because no country has achieved the status of "good."  To quote from the report, "No single country is yet on track to prevent dangerous climate change.  Once again, the first three ranks of the CCPI remain open in this year's edition."  This means that when a country's rank is given, you have to subtract 3 from the number to get the actual rank among the 58 nations.

In the "good" category, the best performance was turned in by Denmark, whose rank is 4th because the first three ranks were left open.  Denmark's performance improved in all areas assessed.  The United Kingdom came in right after Denmark, with a decrease in emissions of 15% in the last five years, an improvement in energy efficiency, and an increased use of renewable energy.   In all, there were 12 nations who were ranked "good" on the report, including many European nations.

In the "moderate" category were 15 nations, including India, whose economy is booming.  India's rank was 30th, which would be 27th, if the first three ranks had not been left open.  The report noted that national experts in India had downgraded their own country, which meant a drop of 6 places compared with the previous year.  The CO2 emissions are increasing in India relatively quickly, and while the development of renewable energy is "good," it could be better, the report noted.  India still needs to catch up in the area of energy efficiency.

CCPI ranking and data for the ten largest
greenhouse gas emitting countries.
Source: CAN Europe/Germanwatch
The United States was ranked with 15 other nations included in the "poor" category.  Although the United States can be proud that it's greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 8%, it's rank of 43rd remains unchanged from last year.  Accounting for the vacancies at the top, that means we came in 40th out of 58 nations. It was noted in the report that the U.S. climbed 12 places in terms of policies that we have put in place to curb CO2 emissions, and our "progress in the regulation of transportation and coal" was noted.  Also included in the "poor" category is China, whose rank was  46th, or in reality, 43rd out of 58 nations. No other details were given for China.

In the "very poor" category, there were 15 countries, including Australia, whose rank was 57th (54th), and Canada, who came in at 58th (55th).  The only countries whose performance was worse than Canada were the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia, whose rank was dead last: 61st (58th).  

The report noted that Australia had lost ground, and cited the change in government there, as well as the "turnaround in installing a carbon levy and trade system."  The report said, "As in the previous year, Canada still shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and therefore remains the worst performer of all industrialised countries."  

There was a panel discussion about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline held recently in Georgetown, a neighborhood of Washington, D.C.,  which was livestreamed.  I listened for a few minutes to a woman who was talking about Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.  She said that there has been an increase in emissions of greenhouse gasses in Canada, which means a further increase in the gap between their actual emissions and their so-called "target."  If everything remained as it is today, there would still be an increase, but if the tar sands in the province of Alberta are mined and sent through the Keystone XL Pipeline, as proposed, Canada's emissions would increase dramatically, because the process of mining the stuff releases CO2 into the air.  The transport of the tar sands through the proposed pipeline would release some more – in the heartland of the United States – on its way to a refinery in Texas.  Once the tar sands are refined, the resulting fuel would be shipped to China.  The increase in emissions would be considerable, a fact that is generally not made clear to the public.  

So there you have it, folks.  Not very good news, is it?  :-/

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