Solar power generates energy for the village in Leribe District, Lesotho.

Solar power generates energy for the village in Leribe District, Lesotho.
Photo: © FAO/Rodger Bosch

Climate Change Performance Index: Global energy transition has started

The global transition to a low carbon economy is clearly underway and gaining speed, according to this year’s Climate Change Performance Index. However, some countries are still performing badly and even going backwards. The first three ranks are left free because up to now, no country’s actions are enough to prevent dangerous climate change.

With the historic Paris Agreement having recently entered into force, this year’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2017, by Germanwatch and published in November 2016, confirms a boost for renewable energy and positive developments in energy efficiency.

While these encouraging trends are happening on a global scale, the necessary energy revolution is still happening too slowly.  On the policy-side, the CCPI still tracks a lack of ambition in many countries but some are catching up this year.

The CCPI evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are together responsible for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

Positive trends in climate politics

Morocco (rank 8), this year's host of COP22, continued its upward trend in the CCPI 2017. With
massive investments in renewable energy and ambitious mid- and long-term targets, Morocco is a
frontrunner in Africa.

Positive trends are seen as well among emerging economies of the G20 like India (rank 20), Argentina (rank 36) and Brazil (40) which all improved their ranking in the CCPI 2017.

However, there is still no big emitter acting in line with the 1.5-2°C limit, therefore the first three ranks are left empty. France on rank 4 is leading the table for the first time, profiting from the exceptional diplomacy enabling the Paris Agreement last year. Sweden (5) and the United Kingdom (6) both benefit from promising climate policies established by former governments.

Emerging economies catch up in renewable energy development

According to the authors, this year’s CCPI confirms that many EU countries, including the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Germany risk losing their leading role in renewable energy development. Several EU Member States have cut back on investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, questioned agreed long-term mitigation targets or failed to set the necessary policy framework to deliver on their short-term goals.

Denmark, the index leader of the last four years, is already experiencing the consequences of its turn-around in climate policy with a dramatic drop in the ranking to place 13 this year. Emerging economies are catching up in the progress of transitioning their energy systems and EU countries have to raise ambition if they want to uphold leading positions.

Poor performance of the world’s two largest emitters USA and China

Canada (55), Australia (57) and Japan (60) are in the bottom group (rated "very poor") of the
index. Japan once again dropped two places as national experts criticize their government for a very poor climate policy. Australia dropped in energy efficiency and is criticized for the unambitious climate policies of the national government.

The performance of the world’s two largest emitters, USA (43) and China (48), is still rated "poor" in the CCPI. The United States lost some ground in almost every Index category and as a result dropped several places. The election results in the USA might pose risks to the speed of the ongoing transition. The election of Donald Trump as president has, however, not yet had any influence on the policy evaluation presented in CCPI 2017.

Despite China being rated “poor”, positive developments are seen thanks to shrinking consumption of coal globally, which resulted in China stopping the construction of 30 coal- fired power plants the last year.

More information:CCPI 

(Germanwatch/ile)