Italy, Brazil and France rank, albeit with some concessions, as best – while the US and Saudi Arabia can be found at the lower end. So far no country in the G20 is on track to meet the Paris climate goals.

The results of the G20 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) were partly prepublished with Climate Transparency’s Brown to Green report 2017. Germanwatch, the Climate Action Network (CAN) and the NewClimate Institute presented the complete ranking on the performance of G20 countries in the categories emissions, energy use, renewable energy and climate policy one day before the G20 summit in Hamburg. The index was developed under consultation of the international partners of Climate Transparency.

“The CCPI shows that an irresponsible policy response à la Trump could lead to decelerated and impeded climate action in some areas – yet it will not bring it to a halt. The triumph of renewables for instance will progress further, as it is an economically viable option.” says Jan Burck from Germanwatch, one of the lead authors of the CCPI. “However, deceleration could present us with major challenges. Our index shows that, so far, no G20 country is on track to meet the needed respective contribution towards limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2°C degrees.”

“Particularly promising are the developments in some of the major emerging economies such as Brazil or India,” Prof. Niklas Höhne from the NewClimate Institute added. “Brazil has achieved crucial advancements in reducing deforestation over the last years, which need to be kept going within the present challenging political debate. India is seeking to skip traditional stages of development by favoring renewables over coal and electric vehicles over gasoline and diesel. Both countries are moving in the right direction – yet climate policies and international climate finance needs further support.”

“It’s time for the world’s richest economies, accounting for over 80 percent of global emissions, to step up their game on climate action. If we are to realise the goals of the Paris Agreement we need countries to get down to the business of serious implementation, to come prepared to assess their collective progress in 2018 and trigger a process to increase climate ambition by 2020,” says Wael Hameiden, director of the Climate Action Network, co-publisher of the study.

Unexpected leader in the CCPI ranking is Italy. The key factors leading to its success were the five-year downward trend in per capita GHG emissions and the sharp increase in renewables, collectively of more than 50% from 2010 to 2014. Italy has thereby achieved the highest approximation towards the well-below-2°C degrees pathway for renewables installations needed to achieve the Paris goal compared to the other G20 countries. That Italy can hold its position appears highly questionable because the investment in renewables after 2014 has broken down (due to data availability not considered in this ranking). Brazil, placed second in the ranking, profits from a high share of renewables in the energy mix (38 percent), yet its climate targets are not ambitious enough and the progress made on forest conservation is currently at risk.

China is ranked 12th due to its immense growth in energy use and emissions over the past years up to 2014, yet it is taking steps to limit the surge, for instance by setting a cap for coal utilization and promoting electric mobility. An improvement in its ranking is therefore expected within the next years.

Saudi Arabia is at the bottom of the ranking with very weak scores in all categories. Within the medium term, however, Saudi Arabia could achieve major advancements in solar energy. On the basis of Trump’s rollback of climate policies, the US occupy second last place in the ranking (same verdict: very weak). Despite some states, cities and companies taking action, there are currently no recognizable attempts at national level to tackle either the very high CO2 emissions or the immense energy use per capita.

About the G20 Climate Change Performance Index, developed by the Climate Transparency partners Germanwatch and the NewClimate Institute:

The index ties in with the global Climate Change Performance Index by Germanwatch, a rating of the 58 largest emitters of GHG emissions globally that has been published annually since 2006. This special edition focuses on the 20 largest economies (G20). The methodology was also adjusted. As was the case previously, the four categories examined are: emissions (40%), energy use (20%), renewable energy (20%) and climate policy (20%). The latter is based on expert assessments by NGOs and think tanks from the respective countries. From now on, the index also evaluates to what extent the respective countries are taking adequate action within the categories emissions, renewables and energy use to achieve the Paris climate goals.