UK ranks second in the world for climate action

The UK is the second best country in the world for tackling climate change, according to a new report from Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe - a coalition of 120 green organisations including Friends of the Earth and WWF.

The report – the 2016 edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) – aims to highlight best-performing nations and place political and social pressure on laggards.

The top three spaces on the index have been left empty every year since its inception to highlight the fact that “no country has done enough to prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change”.

That remained the case this year, but the UK finished behind only Denmark in the rankings, drawing praise for continued expansion of renewable energies and a national plan to phase out coal.

The report does not mention the recent subsidy cuts for renewables or budget cuts for DECC and DEFRA, which campaigners say may affect the UK ‘s ranking next year.

‘Wrong direction’

Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett said: “The UK has shown leadership on climate change in the past – such as introducing the Climate Change Act – but since the general election, policies aimed at cutting UK carbon emissions have been systematically dismantled and weakened.

 “The government’s own advisors warn that there is a big absence of policies to cut emissions in the 2020s, particularly for meeting the fourth Carbon Budget.

 “The UK should be doing far more to build a low carbon future, but unfortunately ministers are sending energy policy in the wrong direction and seem determined to keep the nation hooked on dirty fossil fuels.”

Sweden, Belgium and France rounded out the top five on the CCPI, but their ratings were relatively lower than previous years.

“EU countries still rank high, profiting from their early start in development of climate policies,” said CAN Europe director Wendel Trio.

“However, as countries all over the world have now started to invest in renewable energy on a massive scale, the EU risks falling behind.

“Lack of leadership is reflected in cuts in support for renewables and the ailing Emissions Trading Scheme. The coming two years, when the EU will shape its future climate and energy policies, will define the speed of its transition to a fossil fuel free economy.”

CCPI 2016 results 

Global picture

Globally, the report is positive, pointing to the potential stalling of emissions, and the fact that more renewable energy capacity was built than fossil and nuclear capacity combined for the first time.

Forty four out of 58 countries ranked in the CCPI have double-digit growth rates for renewables, while global coal consumption fell by 4%.

The US jumped up 12 places to 34th on the index, thanks to recent positive developments such as the rejected construction of a large oil-sands pipeline and efforts to push international climate negotiations.

China climbed 3 positions to 47th place on the back of an apparent decoupling of emissions and economic growth. China’s coal consumption appeared to decrease by almost 6% in 2015, while renewables continue to grow.

The report was launched at COP21 in Paris. Keep up with the conference with edie’s daily updates.

Brad Allen

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