What is the purpose of the CCPI?
Climate scientists, meanwhile, have agreed that human-induced activities are the main cause for rising global temperatures, which are now 0.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The consequences are serious already today: Extreme weather events are increasing, glaciers are melting, and the sea level is rising. Most affected are those who are least responsible: poor and marginalised people in developing countries.
Some degree of climate change can no longer be avoided. People affected by it will have to adapt to it as best as they can. Still avoidable, however, is a temperature increase of more than two degrees on global average.
If this can be achieved, the danger of uncontrollable major risks will be significantly reduced. To accomplish this, an enormous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is needed. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) recommends that in order to avoid exceeding the two-degree limit, international climate policy has to be geared towards a maximum CO2 equivalence level of 450 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere.
This means that CO2 emissions in fast developing countries will have to be reduced by 45 to 60 percent and in industrialised countries by 80 percent by the middle of this century, as compared to the levels of 1990. But we are far from achieving this objective. Worldwide CO2 emissions continue to rise.
The entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol was an important step in the direction of a trend reversal. But Kyoto was only a first - and actually way too small - common effort. Beyond 2012 many larger steps will be required. Reaching the goal is not impossible: Promoting renewable energies in line with increased energy efficiency, an active forest protection policy, CO2 capture and storage as well as market-based economic incentives such as emissions trading and policies like renewable energy laws can bring about the reversal of the trend.
It is the duty of all of the countries considered in the CCPI to achieve such ends because they have all signed the UN Convention on Climate Change. According to Article 2 of this convention, they are obliged to avoid dangerous climate change. After the realization of several scientific studies, the EU adopted the upper limit of 2 degrees Celsius as the target for its climate change policy.
Now it is essential to increase political and civil society pressure so that words will be translated into real action. The Climate Change Performance Index has been developed to support this objective. It is an instrument to analyse and compare ongoing emission developments. It brings transparency and is also intended both as an incentive for – and a means to exert pressure towards – improved climate policy.