Mixed Climate Performance Despite Nordic CCPI Leadership

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – Although COVID-19 has cast a long shadow over 2020, commitments to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 have raised the hope of progress in the fight against climate change. However, as we’ve seen in other studies, that seems to still not be enough.

    According to the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2021, published on December 7th, no country performs well enough. For this reason, the first three positions in the CCPI’s overall ranking remain empty.

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    The CCPI analyses and compares climate protection across 57 countries (plus the EU as a whole) with the highest emissions, which together account for 90% of global emissions. The current index analyses emissions before the coronavirus crisis and does not reflect emissions reduction during this unusual situation. The report was compiled by analysts from Germanwatch, the Newclimate Institute, and the Climate Action Network International and with the support of south pole.

    No Reason to Ease

    The inability to fill the first three spots “says a great deal,” the report argues, adding that if “even if all countries were as committed as the current frontrunners, it would still not be enough to prevent dangerous climate change”.  Sweden(4th), Denmark (6th), Norway (8th), and Finland (11th) ranked among the top 8 countries according to the report. However, according to the report,  Sweden is no “climate role model” either. Like every other country so far it is not yet on a path to achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement (which is also why the first three places of the CCPI remain vacant). On the other hand, Sweden is setting standards in greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, and climate policy (rated in the top group for each). The very high energy consumption per capita (49th place) prevents the country from achieving an even better evaluation.

    Moreover, the EU presents a mixed-picture on climate action. “While the Scandinavian EU countries, Portugal and the EU as a whole rank high on the index with relatively good indicators, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic stand out as outliers on climate progress within the bloc.” In the overall ranking, the EU has improved from 22nd place last year to 16th place this year, almost exclusively thanks to a much better-rated climate policy introduced in 2020.

    “The latest Climate Change Performance Index clearly shows that the EU stands at a crossroads,” says Jan Burck, one of the authors of the Index, published by his organization Germanwatch in cooperation with NewClimate Institute and Climate Action Network (CAN). “The EU can become a role model in climate protection with green recovery measures after the coronavirus crisis, by setting an ambitious climate target for 2030 in line with the 1,5°C-limit and a good implementation and further development of its Green Deal. But it can also stumble badly if it pursues greenwashing instead of green recovery and implements inadequate targets and instruments in the European Green Deal,” Burck added. This report comes a few days before the EU summit on the climate targets for 2030 and the UN Climate Ambition Summit to mark the Fifth Anniversary of the Paris Agreement on December 12.

    According to the report, governments need to take further action to set the world on track to keep global warming well below a 2°C increase. In this sense, the CCPI echoes similar findings from the Climate Action Tracker report reported on last week.

    G20 Laggards & EM Hopes

    Only three G20 members lead in the rankings, with six at the very bottom The G20 also presents a split picture. The vast majority of G20 countries, however, are lagging in the rankings. The USA (61st), Saudi Arabia (60th), Canada (58th), Australia (54th), South Korea (53rd), and Russia (52nd) are all rated “very low”.

    “The largest fossil fuel exporting and producing countries representing less than 10% of the global population, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Australia are rightly at the bottom of the table,” said Stephan Singer, Senior Advisor, Global Energy Policies of Climate Action Network. “They are among the highest carbon polluters and the highest energy consumers. None of them have any useful federal climate policy in place to reduce carbon pollution. That shows the influential power of the fossil fuel industries in these countries.”

    Regarding the three largest Asian economies, the report noted the progress made regarding emissions targets, noting China’s commitment to net CO2 neutrality by 2060 and Japan’s and Korea’s hopes of reaching that goal a decade earlier.

    However, there was some good news for a select few emerging market countries.  Morocco (7th), Chile (9th), and India (10th) were among the top of the ranking. “We see many smaller nations like Portugal, Morocco, Chile, and others in Europe which perform much better. As civil society, to combat the climate crisis effectively, we need to dismantle the business model of the fossil fuel companies worldwide.”


    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe is an economist with 8 years of experience in macroeconomic and financial analysis for the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UN World Institute for Development Economic Research, the Stockholm School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Filipe holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the LSE and a MSc in Economics from the University of London, where he currently is a PhD candidate.
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