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Climate Change: The Best and Worst Performers in the World

Joe Biden at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit: Eric Haynes, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

A new report on the world’s response to climate change was presented on Tuesday at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) analyzes the impact 64 countries and the European Union (counted as a whole) have made on the world in their response to the issue of climate change, ranking them based on their positive engagement with the environment.

The team behind the index stated that none of the countries evaluated met their standard for the top three spots in the index this year which qualify a country’s positive effect on climate change as “very high.”

Leading the group at number four, however, is Denmark, with an overall index rating of 76.92. The country was joined at the top by fellow Northern European countries Sweden and Norway — which ranked fifth and sixth, respectively – -all meeting the standards of “high” performance in working atop ameliorate the climate crisis.

Of the countries so evaluated, Greece landed somewhere in the middle, coming in at number 24 on the index, a yellow coded ranking that denotes a “medium” amount of engagement with climate change.

The bottom five are Kazakhstan, followed by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Canada and Taiwan.

The world’s second-highest emitter, the US, climbed up six places from last year’s position but its response was still rated “very low” overall, ranking 51st among individual countries. China, the world’s largest emitter of pollution, was 33rd.

Australia slipped four places on the index from the previous year, when it was 50th, and it was the only country allocated a score of zero in the climate policy category, faring only slightly better in three other areas.

The CCPI uses a combination of different factors to determine its rankings, stating in the foreword of the report that the index is created by evaluating “global greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy use, and climate policy:”

“The CCPI aims to enhance transparency in international climate politics and enables comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries. The climate protection performance of those countries, which together account for 92% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is assessed in four categories: GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy, Energy Use and Climate Policy.”

World’s greenhouse gas emissions have never been higher

The CCPI’s rankings constitute a fierce call to action for countries across the world, exposing their participation in the effort to curb global climate change so that they have nowhere to hide. Such efforts have become necessary in the phase of the climate crisis our world is currently living through, as greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide levels reach disturbing new record levels.

The United Nation’s weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said in its annual report late last month that greenhouse gas levels in the planet’s atmosphere reached a record high in 2020.

The WMO’s report showed that carbon dioxide levels peaked at 413.2 parts per million in 2020, building at a much higher pace than the yearly average for the past decade, despite a small lull during the beginning of the pandemic’s lockdowns.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – the gases that contribute the most significantly to global warming while also causing catastrophic weather events – were all far above amounts found in the pre-industrial era before 1750, when humans  “started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium,” according to the agency.



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