Sweden leads the way in tackling climate change, while the EU lags behind

Climate Action Network, Climate Change Performance Index 2018, CAN, Germanwatch, Paris Agreenemt, CSE, Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program.

Sweden has topped a list of 56 countries ranking the efforts that have been made to avoid dangerous climate change. The Climate Change Performance Index 2018 charts the various countries’ current efforts regarding the implementation of the Paris Agreement, but no nation meets the Goals. Environmental and Sustainability Professionals need to keep up with and thrive in a rapidly changing business regulatory and policy environment, in order to make an impact and contribute to the implementation of Paris Climate Goals. Towards this goal, the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) will deliver its Certified Sustainability (CSE) Practitioner Program in London on March 1-2, 2018, in order to enhance the most important skills of environmental/sustainability professionals, help them progress their career and respond successfully to current and future challenges regarding the implementation of green finance.

The Report points out that “two (2) years after agreeing to limit global warming to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to even aim for a 1.5°C limit, we still see a huge ambition gap in the countries‘ greenhouse gas reduction targets and their progress regarding a sufficient implementation of the Paris agreement in national legislation.”

Evaluating trends and ambitions

Driven in particular by a comparably high performance in the index’ emissions category, Sweden is leading the 2018 list of 56 countries worldwide. Lithuania, Morocco, Norway and the UK join Sweden and come at the top five best performing countries on the list. Saudi Arabia is bottom of the pile, followed by Iran, Korea, Australia and the US, while New Zealand, the Netherlands and Austria are classified as low performers in the overall rating.

Being evaluated in the CCPI for the first time, the European Union lands at place 21 in the ranking. As the union consists of 28 nations, there are wide differences in the performance of individual member states. Germany for example lands in the group of medium-performing countries consisting of countries like Brazil, Mexico and Ukraine. Current discussions on the new clean energy policies and the EU budget offer excellent opportunities to increase ambition of the bloc’s climate action.” EU experts emphasize the union‘s constructive role in international climate diplomacy but criticize the slow progress in putting in place new and more ambitious policies and targets. Disagreements about the future of the European project would lead to weak agreements based on decision making outputs of the lowest common denominators.

The UK dropped to rank eight in the list and lost some ground in its overall score, while on CCPI 2017 ranked number six. A strongly decreasing emissions trend over the last years, mainly driven by a shift from a production-based to a service-oriented economy, has resulted in a high performance in the index emissions category. After weakened climate policy in the past years and cutbacks especially on the promotion of renewables, the newly passed clean growth strategy includes a commitment to offshore wind, and to coal phase-out. If consistently implemented, national experts see the country’s power sector on the way to getting back on track. The plan also includes policy on clean vehicles which could be effective in further driving decarbonisation, experts claim.

Within the UK the level of ambition varies: While Scotland, for example, has gone for a 2032 petrol and diesel car ban, the UK aims for 2040. Yet, the country’s long-term 2030 targets for emissions and renewable energy are not ambitious enough for a well-below-2°C pathway. From 2016, the United Kingdom has been continuously enhancing its placement in the CCPI as the country kept expanding its renewable energies and has been rewarded with an improvement of twelve places in this category. If no significant policy changes are forthcoming next year, we can expect the UK’s downward trajectory in the CCPI to accelerate.

Ireland is the worst performing country in Europe when it comes to taking action to combat climate change, the report has revealed, as it has fallen 28 places to 49th out of the total countries ranked. The country is nowhere close to being on track concerning its well-below-2°C compatible pathway with both its current level as well as its 2030 target.

A new mindset of long-term thinking

Climate Action Network director, Wendel Trio, said: “The EU vows commitment to the Paris Agreement, but avoids real climate action at home. It needs to translate words into action.” The ongoing structural transformation of the European energy system is coupled with a parallel structural transformation of the policy framework. In changing times Environmental and Sustainability Professionals need to stay updated, increase their confidence, credibility and effectiveness and deliver results.

CSE’s next UK presentation of their Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program, Advanced Edition 2018, will be held in London, 1-2 March 2018.

 

 

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