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Good and Bad News For Climate Change Performance

Words by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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Looking at the 10th edition of the Climate Change Performance Index, there is good and bad news. The index, which compares the 58 top carbon-emitting nations, reveals that global carbon emissions reached a new peak. However, the index found that recent developments indicate countries have a new readiness to take action on climate change.

The first three places in the list are unoccupied to remind countries of how much still needs to be accomplished to prevent the worst climate change impacts. The first two occupied spots are taken by Scandinavian countries. Denmark tops the list at No. 4 and Sweden ranks No. 5. Denmark tops the list because of its renewable energy and emissions reductions policies. “Even though emission levels are still relatively high, the country sets an example in how industrialized countries can not only promise, but also implement effective climate protection policies,” the index, published by Germanwatch and CAN Europe, stated.

Clearly, Sweden and Denmark really do show developed countries that emissions reductions are possible. Denmark’s emissions have continued to decline since 1997. Over the last five years, the country’s emissions reductions have increased rapidly by about 19 percent. Sweden’s emissions have declined by about 70 percent over the last five years. The country has also improved its score in the renewables sector, moving up 19 places in that category.

"We see global trends, indicating promising shifts in some of the most relevant sectors for climate protection," said Jan Burck of Germanwatch, author of the Index, in a statement. "The rise of emissions has slowed down, and renewables are rapidly growing due to declining costs and massive investments."

Hope for the world’s top two carbon emitters


In China, the world’s biggest emitter, there have been improvements in efficiency and large investments in renewables. Recent developments point to China’s coal boom coming to an end. About a third of Chinese provinces agreed to implement restriction measures for coal plants. In November, China and the U.S., the second biggest emitter, agreed to name a date for an emissions peak. The U.S. government has given signals that it has adopted a “restrictive coal policy, both internally and externally,” the report stated.

Things are staying the same in Canada and getting worse in Australia


Things have remained the same in Canada, which ranked 58 on the list. Nothing is going forward at the state level, and the country is set to miss its 2020 emissions reduction target by about 20 percent. “The only effective policies in place are provincial initiatives,” the report concludes.

The new Australian government reversed the previous climate change policies, and as a result the country fell 21 positions in the policy evaluation compared to last year. Australia replaced Canada as the worst performing industrial country.

Morocco hits the top 10


Morocco continued to improve this year, as it did last year. The country climbed up six positions this year and ranks in the top 10 for the first time. “This is by far the best result for a developing country in the actual ranking,” the index declares. Morocco has adopted ambitious renewable energy targets and cut gasoline and fuel oil subsidies. It is building the world’s largest (500 megawatt) concentrated solar power plant in Ouarzazate.

Image credit: Wigwam Jones

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

Read more stories by Gina-Marie Cheeseman