Canada placed fifth from the bottom, and the top three ranks were left empty for the second year in a row, in the latest edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) released at the COP 27 climate summit Monday.
The Trudeau government’s climate action landed fifth from the bottom in the annual ranking of 59 countries plus the European Union, not far ahead of Russia, Korea, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia. Top performers included Denmark, Sweden, Chile, Morocco, and India. The lead non-profit behind the annual index, Germanwatch, explained that the top three spots were left open because no country’s performance was close enough to aligning with the emission reduction goals in the Paris agreement. (So, slightly confusingly, Canada placed 58th out of 63 in an assessment of 60 jurisdictions including the EU.)
“Canada has a long way to go,” said Niklas Höhne, co-founder of the NewClimate Institute, which worked with Germanwatch and Climate Action Network-International to compile the index. “Canada has agreed to phase out coal, which is good, but it’s the smallest problem.” It’s the country’s oil and gas production that must be phased down, Höhne added.
Published annually since 2005, the CCPI “aims to enhance transparency in international climate politics and enables comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries,” say the report’s authors. “Every year, the CCPI sets off important public and political debates within the countries assessed,” which together account for 92% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This year, Canada rose three ranks to number 58, but it remains among the “very low performers.” It ranks “very low” in the categories of GHG emissions, renewable energy, and energy use, and “medium” for climate policy. The report finds that Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reductions Plan, announced in March 2022, and its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the 2015 Paris accord, are not 1.5°C-compatible “and must be considerably strengthened.”
Canada is among the 20 countries with the largest developed oil and gas reserves, and its plans to increase gas and coal production more than 5% by 2030 are incompatible with a 1.5°C target, the report says.
“The CCPI experts criticize Canada’s continuing fossil fuel subsidies and fossil fuel extraction,” it states. “Despite commitments to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, these subsidies continue because of a lack of implementation and a focus on insufficient/false solutions such as carbon capture and storage, as well as fossil-based hydrogen.”
(Disclosure: The Energy Mix publisher Mitchell Beer was one of the Canadian contributors to the CCPI survey.)
While no country placed in the top three spots of the overall ranking, Denmark led in almost all categories. “Denmark is the only country with a ‘high’ national and even ‘very high’ rated international climate policy,” say the report authors. “However, despite adopting policies such as a carbon tax, Denmark is currently not yet on track to meet its 50% emission reduction target by 2025 (compared to 1990 levels).”
The report said many countries’ reliance on fossil fuels has been laid bare by the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine, and that the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic “has largely been a missed opportunity for climate progress.”
“We can use this external shock to improve how we heat, move, and live sustainably, or we can continue supporting our current and dangerous fossil system.”
Progress toward a sustainable climate future will hinge in large part on transitioning away from using fossil fuels—which account for more than 75% of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions—and expanding renewables and energy efficiency, the backbones of decarbonization. But governments across the world are planning to produce twice the amount of fossil fuels before 2030 as would be possible within a 1.5°C limit on global warming.
The CCPI calls out 17 countries that are responsible for a large share of fossil fuel production. Most oil and gas producing-countries “lag far behind” on the index, reports CBC. Among them are India, Norway, the United States, China, and Canada, which has consistently performed poorly. Canada was sixth-lowest in the category this year, after ranking third-lowest in 2021 and fourth-lowest in 2020.
“Canada uses a lot of energy, you know? And in general, the efficiency is not very high and renewables are lagging behind,” Höhne said.
Other countries had mixed outcomes. China invests heavily in renewables but scored poorly because of its rising carbon emissions and heavier reliance on coal. It dropped the most spots this year, down 13 ranks to number 51. The U.S., meanwhile, showed improvement following the Biden administration’s policy changes, like the Inflation Reduction Act, reports Premium Times Nigeria.
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kazakhstan were the three lowest performers, while Russia fell three spots to also land near the bottom. South Africa fell five spots with ‘low’ or ‘very low’ ratings for every category except energy use, for which it ranked ‘high.’ Chile rose three ranks because of low per-capita emissions and high renewable energy development, though the country maintained a ‘low’ ranking for energy use.
Morocco, which placed seventh, rated ‘high’ because of strong performance on GHG emissions, energy use, and climate policy. India rose to a ‘medium high’ ranking of eighth place and “the country is on track to meet its 2030 emissions targets (compatible with a well-below 2°C scenario).”
The EU overall rose three ranks, mostly because of its “Fit for 55” legislative package that aims to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030. But its member states were scattered across the list, and Germany fell three spots because of increased liquefied natural gas imports, reports DW.
Ireland, which moved up nine spots since last year while still receiving a low rating, sees its rank as evidence that it has the right policies in place but needs to start delivering on commitments to GHG reductions.
“It’s going to be good for our country, good for our economy, but we cannot opt out,” said climate minister Eamon Ryan. “We cannot say Ireland, a green country, is not going to go in this direction.”
Italy, which moved up one spot to remain in the middle of the list, will need to accelerate its development of renewables and improve its climate policy, the index shows. But if a path to accelerate renewable development is “followed adequately and in the right time, it would allow [Italy] to overcome the challenge of the double energy and climate crisis, which risks bringing Italy to its knees,” said Mauro Albrizio, head of the European office of Legambiente, an Italian environmental association.
Australia, where Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government continued to support new fossil fuel developments moved up three spots from last year but it still falls behind many other developed countries (though not Canada).