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BIGGEST LOSER

And the award for the worst climate change record in the industrialized world goes to…

canada climate change global warming emissions November 27, 1993Participants in the annual Grey Cup parade, dressed as cowboys and a Mountie, chat with each other prior to the parade in Calgary November 27, 1993. The parade and opening ceremonies were being held on the eve of the 81st Grey Cup pitting the Edmonton Eskimos against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. SCANNED FROM NEGATIVE REUTERS/Jeff Vinnick
Reuters//Jeff Vinnick
One way to cut emissions.
  • Gwynn Guilford
By Gwynn Guilford

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Think fast—which industrialized country is slacking off the most on battling climate change? Nope, not the US, where many government leaders deny there’s anything to fight. Nor Australia, where the government reversed itself on establishing a carbon tax and trading system.

Drum roll, please, for the biggest loser. It’s… Canada. Or at least, that’s the conclusion of a new report by Germanwatch, a think-tank and advocacy group, which uses what it calls a Climate Change Performance Index to rank countries based on things like their greenhouse gas emissions, adoption of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate policy indicators.

 

"The Climate Change Performance Index, Results 2014," Germanwatch & Climate Action Network

That’s in the industrialized world. But even compared with other major countries in rest of the world, Canada’s still a disgrace. There it is, bringing up the caboose with Iran, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia:

"The Climate Change Performance Index, Results 2014," Germanwatch & Climate Action Network

What’s remarkable about the above chart is that Canada’s climate-change policy won it fewer points than did the other countries in last place, none of which are considered in any way “progressive.”

Here’s the breakdown of the index’s methodology: 30% apiece comes from current emissions levels and recent emissions trends; 8% comes from recent adoption of renewable energy; 5% apiece comes from energy efficiency and efficiency trends; 2% from renewable energy’s share of the overall energy supply. The remaining 20% is calculated based on evaluations from national and international climate policy experts, including from each respective country.

That means that the orange part of the chart, which is subjective, puts Canada is roughly on par with Greece, Croatia, New Zealand, Ukraine, and Turkey.

What did Canada do to flunk so hard?

Canada’s long been a climate policy laggard. It reneged on the targets agreed to in the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012), which stipulated a 6% reduction in emissions relative to 1990s levels. In Dec. 2011, Canada just essentially said “oops,” and withdrew from the protocol. And that pretty much sums up its attitude since then.

"The Climate Change Performance Index, Results 2014," Germanwatch & Climate Action Network
The company Canada keeps.

Its commitment for 2020 is to have 17% less emissions than in 2005. This is “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” as it translates to 3% increase versus 1990—a big weakening compared to its Kyoto commitment and another pledge it made, the Copenhagen Accord. And yet, considering current policies in place, Canada isn’t going to hit that target, according to Climate Action Tracker. ”As in the previous year, Canada still shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy,” says the Germanwatch report.

Screenshot from Climate Action Tracker

But before everyone else gets smug, they should take this point into account. “No single country is yet on track to prevent dangerous climate change,” says the CPPI report.

Screenshot from Climate Action Tracker
This chart plots global greenhouse gas emissions under various scenarios alongside the emissions pathway necessary to avoid the 2°C warming limit (in black).

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