Press Release | 10 December 2019

Majority of countries show decline in emissions: Climate Change Performance Index sees opportunity for turning point

Climate Change Performance Index 2020: Decreasing emissions in 31 out of 57 high emitting countries / But more ambition and accelerated action needed / USA for the first time replaces Saudi Arabia as worst performing country / Sweden continues to lead

Madrid (Dec. 10th, 2019). The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) presented today at the climate summit in Madrid reflects opposing trends in global climate action: Australia, Saudi Arabia and especially the USA give cause for great concern with their low to very low performance in emissions and renewable energy development as well as climate policy. With these three governments massively influenced by the coal and oil lobby, there are hardly any signs of serious climate policy in sight. On the other hand, global coal consumption is falling and the boom in renewable energy continues. In 31 of the 57 high emitting countries assessed, collectively responsible for 90 percent of emissions, falling emission trends are recorded.

 "The new Climate Change Performance Index shows signs of a global turnaround in emissions, including declining coal consumption. However, several large countries are still trying to resist this trend - above all the USA. We see opportunities for a halt to rising global emissions - but much will depend on further developments in China and the elections in the USA. Both countries are at cross roads", says Ursula Hagen (Germanwatch), one of the authors of the index jointly presented by Germanwatch, NewClimate Institute and Climate Action Network (CAN).

Eight EU countries rated "high" - Poland and Bulgaria "very low"
As none of the countries assessed is already on a path compatible with the Paris climate targets, the first three places of the ranking remain unoccupied. While some EU countries such as Sweden (4th) - again the frontrunner - and Denmark (5th), one of the best climbers, achieve overall high or very high ratings, the performance of EU countries varies largely: Eight EU countries are rated high, eight low and two very low. Bulgaria (49th) and Poland (50th) are the worst performing EU countries, both with a very low policy rating and Poland with low to very low results on renewable energy. The worst EU performer of last year, Ireland, has improved its position in the ranking by seven places (41st). The European Union as a whole ranks 22nd, Germany 23rd (both "medium"). "The EU has lost a few ranks but could move up again if it were to follow the recommendation by the new president of the European Commission to increase the emission reduction target from -40% to -55% by 2030 compared to 1990 and adopt a long-term strategy for reaching climate neutrality by 2050”, says Prof. Dr. Niklas Höhne from NewClimate Institute.

China, the largest global emitter, once again slightly improves  its ranking to 30th place ("medium"). China scores with a very good performance for its increased share of renewables in the energy mix over recent years and relatively good policy ratings, but the poor performance in emissions and energy efficiency still weighs heavily. If China implements its extensive plans for new coal-fired power plants, there is a risk of a severe relapse to the bottom of the ranking.

Only two G20 countries in the leading field of the ranking - eight at the very bottom
While only two G20 countries, the United Kingdom (7th) and India (9th), are ranked in the "high" category, eight G20 countries are remaining in the worst category of the index ("very low"). Australia (56th out of 61), Saudi Arabia and above all the USA perform particularly poor - the USA is the worst performer for the first time. Under the Trump administration, the USA is rated "low" or "very low" in almost all categories; in the category climate policy only Australia performed worse, which received 0 out of 100 possible points based on the assessment of climate experts in the country. "This science based assessment shows again that in particular the large climate polluters do hardly anything for the transformational shift we need to deep emissions reductions to curtail the run to potentially irreversible climate change. If necessary and strongly enhanced climate finance and loss and damage support by the wealthy nations for the poorer countries were to be included also the various higher ranking European countries would be performing much lower in the scores", Dr. Stephan Singer from the Climate Action Network (CAN), co-publisher of the CCPI, says.

About the Climate Change Performance Index, developed by Germanwatch and NewClimate Institute:
The Climate Change Performance Index by Germanwatch and NewClimate Institute published together with the Climate Action Network (CAN) is a ranking of the 57 countries (new: Chile) and the EU, collectively responsible for about 90% of global GHG emissions. The four categories assessed are: GHG Emissions (40%), Renewable Energy (20%), Energy Use (20%) and Climate Policy (20%). The latter is based on expert assessments by NGOs and think tanks from the respective countries. Within the categories GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy and Energy Use the CCPI also evaluates to what extent the respective countries are taking adequate action to be on track towards the global Paris-goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C. Therefore, the CCPI is an important tool to enhance transparency in international climate politics and enables comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries.