Climate policy - an 'endangered species'?
In this year again, none of the countries ranked in the index achieved the positions one to three; despite the high attention the issue of climate change has reached prior to the climate change summit in Copenhagen. None of the countries analysed is contributing sufficiently on a practical level to the goal to avoid dangerous climate change and keep global warming notably below the 2 degrees limit.
It should be noted that more emerging economies are among the forerunners than in previous years. In addition to many European countries, Brazil, India and Mexico were able to place themselves in top positions. Yet, there is more to do to earn the best grade - Brazil, Sweden or the United Kingdom also still have a lot of catching-up to do. The index compares countries only with each other, and the first positions solely show that these countries perform better in terms of climate protection than others. No country is yet on the path to contribute adequately to avoiding dangerous climate change.
Due to this lack of political will, this year again, positions one to three could not be awarded. So far, the index can only compare countries based on energy-induced emissions, therefore emissions resulting from land-use changes were not included. Brazil made big progress in reducing deforestation within the last months. However, it is not yet clear if this is a result due to a decreased demand of palm oil and soya from the current economic crisis.
In regards to the emissions trend, Australia, China, Saudi Arabia and Austria in particular perform badly. Especially Saudi Arabia‘s performance in the Climate Change Performance Index contradicts the necessary level of climate protection: on the one hand, they are producing a high emissions level and a poor emissions trend. On the other hand, their representatives consistently obstructed the UN climate negotiations by, e.g., insisting on compensations for lost gains from oil sales, to be delivered through funds originally intended for the support of poor countries for adaptation measures. This led to an extremely negative policy evaluation.
Looking at the emissions level of the ranked countries, the United States, Canada and Russia place very poorly. Even though the USA was able to improve several ranks in comparison to last year‘s results, the proof still needs to be furnished that the new climate policies of President Obama will also lead to reduced emissions and a leading international position on climate. The United Kingdom succeeded in passing a national climate policy act. Such a track may – if well done – lead to a constant emissions reduction and may help the UK to perform just as well next year. This is a vital component on the path to remain below the 2 degrees limit.