Activist countries

Denmark shines, US lags behind in latest climate protection ranking | Top countries

In the wake of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, pressure has intensified for world leaders to confront the climate crisis head-on and adopt bolder policies. This, in turn, has increased the need for timely data that countries can use to guide their policy decisions.

The CICC 2022, released in November 2021, offers a real-time assessment of the effectiveness of these policy changes. Developed by Germanwatch, NewClimate Institute and the Climate Action Network, the CICC is an independent monitoring tool to track countries’ performance on climate protection.

The results, published annually since 2005, are compiled with the help of 450 experts and measure the climate policy performance of 60 countries and the EU, which are collectively responsible for 92% of greenhouse gas emissions. . The index takes into account both political promises and the net emissions per capita of each country.

Photos: Climate change in Greenland

What emerges from the CICC’s analytical framework is that it emphasizes measurement to see whether countries are keeping pace, not just climate policy discourse. “You can make a lot of policies, make a lot of promises, but if they don’t work, the country cannot be at the top of the rankings,” explains Jan Burck, senior adviser for low carbon strategies. & Energy for the CICC.

Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland and 2022 senior adviser to the Office of the Presidential Special Envoy for Climate at the U.S. Department of State, says, “It’s really important to note that this particular set of metrics – like all metrics, by the way – has a lot of built-in judgment about what constitutes best and worst.

Other groups may use different criteria to assess countries based on their changes in climate policies. However, the CCPI focuses on four main areas: greenhouse gas emissions (40% of the overall score), renewable energy (20% of the overall score), energy consumption (20% of the overall score) and climate policy (20% of the overall score). score), to determine its ranking.

This balancing of per capita emissions and energy transitions with climate policy allows the CICC to highlight remarkable performance in otherwise neglected countries. “Morocco is an exciting example for a very low-emissions country,” Burck points out. “The country really took the risk, relatively early – around 2009 or 2010 – and made a big investment in renewable, solar and wind energy.”

Burck explains that weighing a country’s total emissions would not provide the most accurate assessment of its progress. “We think emissions per capita is a good way to solve this problem,” he notes, because it allows small countries with high emissions to be compared, for example, with large countries that have relatively low emissions.

By this standard, India ranks very well because it produces two tons per capita compared to, say, 30 to 40 tons per capita in a small oil-producing country like Qatar. Burck points out, however, that India is at a critical tipping point. As its population grows – and with that growth comes rising CO2 emissions per capita – its leaders face a choice about how they shape environmental policy. Development can be an opportunity to stick to the status quo or to implement policies that encourage renewable energy.

These are important questions for both developing countries and established economies with high CO2 emissions, such as the United States. “The question of a just transition in these countries is important,” stresses Burck. The Just Transition Framework reflects principles emphasizing the need for positive social intervention to protect citizens’ rights as economies transition to sustainable production so that workers and communities benefit from the transition and are not unfairly burdened by it. -this.

Hultman argues, however, that applying this per capita lens to data can hinder real change, allowing some higher-emitting countries, like China — which ranks 38th — to score better. “The large historical emitters should not be off the hook,” he notes.

In some countries, ranking changes appear to reflect politics. Burck explains that “you see developments up close after the elections in the United States.” However, in other countries like the UK with a comprehensive climate law, “it doesn’t really make a real difference whether the Conservatives or Labor are in charge, in terms of the climate issue.”

These observations are key to understanding what a strong climate policy looks like. Burck believes that the extent to which leaders are willing to work together is key to achieving global net-zero CO2 emissions. Tools like the CICC, he argues, are what allow us to hold these countries accountable. Hultman accepts, despite his apprehensions. “As long as we are aware of the limitations of each metric, having it is extremely important.”

In recent years, the CICC has been used as a tool for citizens suing their own government on climate change issues, as a source for activists advocating for stronger international political action, and as a point of reference for politicians negotiating a better climate policy.

Overall, however, no country had strong enough policies to rank first, second or third in this year’s ranking. The decision to leave the first three positions empty was deliberate by the CICC. “We really hope that maybe a country will climb,” Burck said. “But still, we can’t put any country in the first three rings, which is a shame. But maybe the next few years will tell us something else.