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Climate Performance: G8 Climate Scorecards 2008

[SEE ALSO: G8 LEADERS SUMMIT 2008 - SCOOP FULL COVERAGE]

G8 Climate Scorecards 2008

Climate performance of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and Unites States of America. Background information for China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa...

VIEW FULL REPORT: G8 CLIMATE SCORECARDS 2008 [PDF, 1.54 MB]

[EXTRACT]

Summary

Climate change is a serious and urgent threat to global society. The level at which climate change becomes "dangerous" depends, however, on the values attached to the threatened systems. Based on the latest scientific assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), several countries, such as the EU, the Philippines, Iceland and Micronesia, have agreed that the increase of global average temperature should be kept below 2°C in comparison to pre-industrial levels.

As a consequence, global greenhouse gas emissions will have to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and decline below half of the level of 1990 by 2050 and continue to decline afterwards. Leaving some room for growth for developing countries, industrialized countries need to decrease their emissions by 80 % by 2050. Current trends are still going in the opposite direction, with high emissions in developed countries and growing emissions in most developing countries.

Given the urgency of the challenge, the current Japanese G8 Presidency followed the example of the German Presidency in 2007 and made climate change and emission reductions the priority of this year's G8+5 agenda.

The G8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United States of America) and other major industrialized countries have a large responsibility for taking the lead on action to tackle climate change. They must show leadership by committing to deep emission cuts as a group in the order of at least 25 % to 40 % below the 1990 level by 2020 and by putting policies and measures in place to achieve these targets and harnessing the massive economic benefits of a clean energy future.

They also have a responsibility to drive global cooperation with the +5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) and other developing countries to foster sustainable development through technology transfer and financing. Sending a political signal in support of international cooperation and ambitious targets to cut global emissions, this year's G8+5 can also help make the UN climate talks in Poznan this December a success.

Individual countries have reacted differently to the climate challenge. Each country is unique in its starting position, including the economic activities that result in greenhouse gas emissions, its level of development, industrial structure, availability of natural resources and public perceptions.

The G8 climate scorecards provide a comparable snapshot of the current situation across the G8 countries as well as the five major developing countries. They provide recent and expected emission developments of each country and various other indicators. The scorecards also provide an overview of the most important activities by the governments to respond to the threat of climate change.

For the G8 countries, they provide an overall summary evaluation of the climate performance of the federal governments of each country based on all of the criteria covered in the scorecards, and on the core benchmark that countries implement enough measures to reduce their emissions by 80 % by 2050. In addition, countries' performance in the areas energy efficiency, renewable energy and the development of the carbon market are summarised separately.

THREE COUNTRIES HAVE FAILED THE TEST: USA, CANADA AND RUSSIA

* The United States score the worst of all G8 countries, being the largest emitter with the highest per capita emissions and an increasing trend in total emissions. At the same time the US have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. While substantial activities emerge at the state level, little substantive federal measures are in place to curb emissions in the short term.

* Second on the list is Canada with a similar situation: very high per capita emissions, a steadily increasing trend in total emissions (recently revised upwards), far away from its Kyoto target and inadequate mid to long-term greenhouse gas targets. A plan to curb emissions is developed but is yet to be implemented. The Kyoto target will stay out of reach.

* Russia ranks a bit better due to declining absolute emissions in the early 1990s and a large share of less CO2-intensive natural gas. But since 1999 emissions increase steadily and there is hardly any policy in place to curb emissions. Recent modest government plans exist but still need to be implemented.

LOWER MEDIUM RANK COUNTRIES ITALY AND JAPAN HAVE MADE SOME EFFORTS BUT ARE STILL FAR AWAY FROM MAKING AN ADEQUATE CONTRIBUTION TO KEEPING GLOBAL TEMPERATURE RISE BELOW 2°C:

* Japan has relatively low emission rates (per capita, per GDP and per industrial production) compared to the average of industrialized countries due to high energy efficiency, and its use of nuclear power (which WWF does not consider as viable alternative). But absolute emissions are increasing and no mandatory emission reduction scheme exists. The lack of such policies led to the relatively low rank of Japan.

* Italy's absolute emissions increase steadily and are considerably above the Kyoto target. The country has started some efforts, but only a few national measures are yet in place that have reduced emissions. As an EU member state, Italy does support the EU greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2020 as well as the EU energy saving and renewables targets and has been relatively strict in allocating allowances in the EU Emission Trading Scheme.

THE THREE COUNTRIES FURTHEST ALONG THIS TRACK ARE GERMANY, FRANCE AND UK, BUT EACH IS LIKELY TO SEE INCREASES IN EMISSIONS IF FURTHER MEASURES ARE NOT IMPLEMENTED SOON:

* Germany's emissions declined 1990 to 2000 partly due to economic downturn in Eastern Germany but also due to national measures. Since then, emissions are stable and a gap to meet the Kyoto target is expected if no immediate measures are put in place or external credits are purchased. Germany is successful with its promotion of new renewable energy sources. But it is politically less ambitious for electricity production from fossil fuels, facing a high share of coal and lignite and announced investment plans that would lock Germany into a high level of carbon intensiveness for the next 40 years. Germany is lagging behind its aspirations in implementing the measures required to reach its ambitious -40 % reduction target for GHG emissions by 2020. Especially the automotive sector as part of transportation is currently politically shielded from carbon reducing pressures.

* Emission rates (per capita and per GDP) in France are relatively low for an industrialized country, partially due to a high share of nuclear energy (which WWF does not consider as viable policy). Emissions have been roughly stable since 1990. The ambitious long-term target still needs to be implemented. France could strengthen its efforts in the building and transport sectors and be more ambitious in the electricity sector.

* UK's emissions are already below the Kyoto target, largely due to a transition from coal to gas in the 1990s. But the fall in emissions has levelled off since 2000, the share of coal has again increased and emissions are expected to rise further. The strong national climate debate has led to innovative national policies such as the Climate Change Bill, which offer the potential for significant emission reductions in future. However, improvements could still be made in transport and non-residential buildings.

* As EU member states, all three support the EU greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2020 as well as EU energy efficiency and renewables targets. Allocation among member states and application to national level is currently discussed.

SOME POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS ARE TO BE HIGHLIGHTED:

* The operation of the Emission Trading Scheme in the EU was improved and led to more stringent allocations in the phase 2008 to 2012. Auctioning of allowances creates new financial resources that can be used for climate change mitigation. * While federal activities in Canada and the USA are insufficient, activities of states within these countries are very encouraging.

* An intensive national debate on climate policies has started in almost all G8 countries at a high political level and with strong public interest. All countries are yet to make decisions on their policy.

* Some countries, like Japan, have made considerable efforts in energy efficiency.

THERE ARE MOSTLY NEGATIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN SOME COUNTRIES' CLIMATE PERFORMANCE

* Japan, France, Germany and the EU as a whole received international recognition for announcing ambitious climate targets such as halving global emissions by 2050 or reducing emissions by 20 %, 30 % or 40 % by 2020. However, they fail to date to put policies in place to reach these targets.

* Emissions continued to increase, e.g. in Canada and Russia

* Projections of future emissions have been increased, e.g. for Canada

Energy efficiency potential is not tapped: Although large potential exists to save energy and money at the same time, all G8 countries have insufficient policies in place to overcome barriers to energy efficiency. Countries' programmes are incomplete focussing on only some aspects such as appliances or buildings. Efficiency improvements in transport are usually not sufficiently encouraged. Japan scores well on dynamic efficiency standards ("top-runner approach") for appliances and cars but leaves energy performance of buildings and in the power sector uncovered. Canada, USA and Russia rank last on energy efficiency with broadly insufficient or lacking policies.

Successful support for renewable energy has been demonstrated, but efforts are insufficient in most countries: Renewable energy technologies need support mechanisms to accelerate their deployment. Positive developments can be observed e.g. in Germany with a comprehensive strategy but most other countries lack behind expectations.

Carbon markets are maturing: The innovative instruments of the carbon market (emissions trading and creditable emission reduction projects through the Clean Development Mechanism, CDM, and Joint Implementation, JI) are expected to play a major role in future actions against climate change. Most countries are improving their implementation of the carbon market. No or only small activities are present in Canada, USA and Russia.

THE + 5

This report also provides information for the +5, the major developing countries. These five countries are expecting large growth of emissions in the future. But all of them undertake action to slow emissions growth, e.g. significant support for renewable energy in Brazil, China and India. These countries have not been scored in the same manner as G8 due to their different national circumstances and level of development. The question remains how G8 countries will assist them in developing in a less carbon intensive manner and how much effort they undertake themselves.

SCORING

The scoring, based on the twelve indicators, demonstrates that none of the G8 countries are implementing enough measures to be considered in line with the target to keep global temperature rise below 2°C. Given the urgency of the climate challenge, the G8 countries collectively still have a long way to go. Some countries have underlined their intent to move ahead globally by doing their fair share through setting mid-term targets for 2020 (e.g. the EU member states whose 30 % reduction target would be just about in line with a 2°C pathway). The other G8 countries - Russia, Japan, Canada and the US - have so far put few objectives and policies in place that show they are taking the challenge seriously.

The G8 Climate Scorecards were commissioned jointly by Allianz, a leading global financial service provider, and WWF, a leading global environmental NGO.

***

VIEW FULL REPORT: G8 CLIMATE SCORECARDS 2008 [PDF, 1.54 MB]

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