High Emissions, Low Ambitions

The new Climate Change Performance Index published at Doha's climate talksshow another record breaking increase in global CO2 emissions

Doha, Qatar—In a time of heavily increasing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel investments, the light at the end of the tunnel cannot yet be seen. The eighth annual Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), which was published at the Doha climate talks yesterday by Germanwatch and the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-E), ranks the climate protection performance of the 58 highest emitters worldwide. For the first time, the index used deforestation data, which resulted in a drop in rankings of countries with high forest emissions such as Brazil and Indonesia. Once again, no country made it into the first three spots on the list due to a lack of ambition to reach the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

The Worldwatch Institute has been a long term supporter of the CCPI and this year again provided, along with other U.S.-based organizations, an assessment of the United States climate policy performance.

The two biggest emitters, the U.S. and China, are still ranked comparably low. “China's emission levels have risen, but as the massive investments in renewable energies are expected to show an effect shortly, its emissions trend could slow down in the near future and lead to better results,” said Jan Burck, Team Leader for German and European Climate Policy at Germanwatch. China is ranked 54 in this year’s index.

The United States climbed up in this year’s CCPI, from its position at 52 last year to number 43 this year. “The United States has shown a substantial decrease in emissions, both in relative and absolute terms, which is good news for the world’s climate,” said Alexander Ochs, Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Director who, together with Reese Rogers, MAP Sustainable Energy Fellow at the Institute, contributed to the report. “The scoring of the United States should be interpreted with caution, however. Reductions are, to a substantial degree, a result of the ongoing economic crisis and the relatively warm winter last year which reduced emissions from heating. Another main factor is the shift from coal to natural gas, most of which is unconventional shale gas. Only direct carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of shale gas are accounted for and methane emissions from the process of conveyance at the borehole are ignored.”

“At the same time, we start seeing the results of significant federal support for green technologies including as part of the economic recovery package and tax incentives for renewables,” said Ochs. “In addition, states and communities throughout the United States are moving ahead with policies and measures in favor of sustainable technologies and practices. It will now be important to keep these programs at all levels of governments alive while developing a truly comprehensive national climate and energy policy.As a first and most important step, subsidies for fossil fuels finally need to be eradicated that are responsible for unjustified governmental expenses and the deaths of thousands of Americans every year.”

CCPI is an instrument meant to enhance transparency in international climate politics. Its aim is to encourage political and social pressure on those countries which have, up to now, failed to take ambitious actions on climate protection as well as to highlight countries with best-practice climate policies. On the basis of standardized criteria, the index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are, together, responsible for more than 90 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Eighty percent of the evaluation is based on objective indicators of emissions trend and emissions level and 20 percent of the results are built upon national and international climate policy assessments by more than 200 experts from the respective countries. 

PRINT/EMAILFRIDAY, DECEMBER 07, 2012

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Notes to Journalists: For more information, please contact Supriya Kumar at skumar@worldwatch.org.

About the Worldwatch Institute: Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than 18 languages. For more information, visit www.worldwatch.org

About Germanwatch: Germanwatch has been actively promoting global equity and the preservation of livelihoods since 1991. In doing so, the Institute focuses on the politics and economics of the North with their worldwide consequences. The situation of marginalized people in the South is the starting point of Germanwatch’s work. Together with its members and supporters as well as with other actors in civil society, the Institute intends to represent a strong lobby for sustainable development. For more information, visit www.germanwatch.org

About the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-E): CAN-E is recognized as Europe‘s leading network working on climate and energy issues. With over 100 members in 25 European countries, CAN-E unites to work to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable energy and environment policy in Europe. For more information, visit www.climnet.org