Germany Leads, US Still Brings Up the Rear: G8 Nations' Climate Change Performance Rankings Released

german flag photo

photo: Will Palmer via flickr

With the American Clean Energy & Security Act just passed in the House, let's look at what WWF has to say about how well the G8 countries, plus five developing nations are doing in terms of climate change policy:The 2009 G8 Climate Scorecards rank the members of the G8 on a range of issues -- emission trends since 1990, growth of renewable energy and renewable energy policy, emissions per capita and per unit of GDP, CO2 per kWh of electricity, industrial energy efficiency, transport policy, among others.

How well each nation performs is given a green, yellow, or red rating in each area, with red being (appropriately enough) the worst. Overall no nation does better than yellow, by the way.

Germany Leads the Way
Germany leads the G8 receiving green ratings for its renewable energy policy and adoption of renewable energy; however it received red ratings for its transport policy and its overall electric/nuclear policy.

Germany was seen as making significant emission reductions since 1990 due to policy decisions, though some of this was due to economic downturn in the former East Germany until 2000. That said, particularly poor areas in Germany were the large reliance on coal and "no convincing strategy for low carbon transition in the transport sector."

UK: Mostly Solid
The UK ranked second, receiving green ratings for its progress towards meeting its Kyoto Protocol commitments and emissions per unit of GDP. However it received red ratings for CO2 per kWh of electricity, industrial energy efficiency, and transport policy.

The UK was praised for already having emissions below its Kyoto Protocol commitment. Also receiving kudos is the nation's long-term emission reduction target of at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, though its mid-term strategy was less impressive, not going beyond the unambitious EU proposals. Viewed poorly is the UK's weak adoption of renewable energy.

France: Troisième Place, Pas Mal
France came in third, only receiving a green rating for Kyoto Protocol progress; WWF handed out red rating for its emissions trend since 1990, its stagnating use of renewable energy, its lack of leadership in climate change negotiations, its electric/nuclear policy, and its transport policy.

France was praised for being one of the first nations with a long-term emission reduction target (75% by 2050), but criticized for lacking an implementation plan to achieve this. It's relatively low per capita emissions (for an industrialized country) were given mixed ratings on the grounds that this has been achieved through reliance on nuclear power, which WWF does not consider to be a truly sustainable solutions.

Four nations received red ratings overall: Japan, Russia, USA, and Canada (in declining order).

USA: Bringing Up the Rear in 7th Place
Though the US moved up from last place since the last rankings, the only areas in which WWF saw fit to give yellow ratings were in its leadership in climate change negotiations—saying there's been more progress in the past few months than in the past three decades—and in its renewable energy policy.

WWF was positive about the new direction towards climate policy of the Obama administration, though that's the extent of the congeniality. The fact remains that the US has the second highest overall emissions in the world and the highest in the G8. It ranks right at the top of per capita carbon emissions, with only a few oil-producing states in the Middle East doing more poorly. Emission reduction targets in the short term are not ambitious.

Canada: We're Number 8!
Coming in last place, Canada received red marks across the board, with the exception of a green rating for the amount of CO2 emitted per kWh of electricity—due to its large use of hydropower.

WWF summarizes Canada's poor performance by saying that the nation has very high emissions per capita compared to other industrial nations, despite the aforementioned large use of hydropower; its per capita emissions are still increasing; its expanding development of the carbon-intensive tar sands and has no significant policy to reduce overall emissions. Furthermore, Canada is seen as actually slowing international climate negotiations.

For some harder numbers behind all these color coded rankings, download: 2009 G8 Climate Scorecards (PDF)

Global Climate Change
Worst-Case IPPC Climate Change Trajectories Are Being Realized
First Official Climate Change Refugees Evacuate Their Island Homes for Good
Climate Change is a Top Threat to National Security, Says New Head of US Intelligence

Related Content on