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G8 “Scorecards” Released: USA Disappoints

Today, the World Wildlife Fund and SE- Allianz released their 2009 “G8 Climate Scorecards” report, ranking the energy performance of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US. Based on three categories—”Improvements Since 1990″, “Current Status”, and “Policies for the Future”, each with specific areas for potential growth, the 8 countries were ranked based on a “stoplight” system. No country received a green light for its overall performance (half got red lights), and the tone of the report was disappointment—Although the WWF applauded efforts of top ranked countries, never did they cede that any G8 country has reached its goals or is prepared for the future. Irony abounded too when it was noted in several of the country’s reports that decreasing emissions had occurred almost by accident (due to events like Russia’s economic decline and France’s construction of nuclear power plants). Here, we have a simplified summary of each country’s performance, along with notes about each nation’s green initiatives.

First Place—Germany

  • Where they win: They are nearing their Kyoto Protocol goal, effective future policies for renewables.
  • Where they lose: Poor future policies for electicity/nuclear power and transportation
  • Notes: Emissions reductions partly attributed to economic downturn in 2000. Country heavily reliant on coal, yet has been able to recently promote new renewable technology and sources.

Second Place—United Kingdon

  • Where they win: They are below Kyoto emissions, have low emissions per GDP
  • Where they lose: Low energy efficiency in industry, bad transportation policies
  • Notes: “Leadership by example” according to the WWF.

Third Place—France

  • Where they win: They are hitting Kyoto target standards
  • Where they lose: Their emissions are rising, they don’t represent good leadership in climate change policy and negotiations, and they have ineffective electric, nuclear, and transportation policies for the future
  • Notes: The WWF attributes low emissions rates to France’s high use of nuclear energy, which it “does not consider a viable policy option”. France is, however, highlighted as one of the first countries to adopt a long term target by law (to cut emissions to 25% of 1990 levels by 2050), although no implementation plan has been outlined yet.

Fourth Place—Italy

  • Where they win: Low emissions per capita and GDP
  • Where they lose: Their emissions as a whole are not decreasing, they are far from their Kyoto target, they have poor leadership, and they have little plans for nuclear, electric, transport, and renewables policies in the future.
  • Notes: Italy is considering reintroducing nuclear power; WWF calls policy approach to climate change “weak”.

Fifth Place—Japan

  • Where they win: High energy efficiency in industry
  • Where they lose: They have made almost no improvements since 1990, and have bad policies concerning electricity, nuclear energy, industry standards, households and services, and renewbles.
  • Notes: Relatively low emissions attributed to nuclear energy. Japan plans to use forestry to decrease emissions (by making national carbon sinks bigger), but those plans are expected to fall short. Has made progress with fuel economy standards for transportation and household appliances.

Sixth Place—Russia

  • Where they win: Their emissions are falling and they have achieved their Kyoto commitment
  • Where they lose: They sport high emissions per capita and GDP, low energy efficiency in industry, and they failed across the board to come up with good future policies for efficiency.
  • Notes: Emissions well below Kyoto target because of economic and population downturn, but are expected to rise again. WWF notes that there are “very few climate related policies”. Planned policy to sell national oil to other countries, driving up the need for domestic fuel.

Seventh Place– United States of America

  • Where we win: NOWHERE
  • Where we lose: We have failed to improve our emissions since 1990, and we have high emissions in every sector of our society and industry, and we have ineffective future policies (with the exception of leadership and renewables)
  • Notes: Obama administration seen as “very positive and encouraging” for climate change action. However, the US remains the “country with the highest absolute emissions in the G8″ with a “strong dependence on coal and oil”.

Eighth Place—Canada

  • Where they win: They have low carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt hour of electricity used
  • Where they lose: Everywhere else. No good future policies, and no improvements since 1990.
  • Notes: Canada is actually expanding their oil use by developing and using tar sands to extract oil. The WWF accuses Canada of “abandoning their Kyoto Protocol Commitment” in the report.

To read the report in its entirety, visit http://www.worldwildlife.org/climate/policy/G8-climate-scorecards.html

Disappointed with the US? Surprised by anything you read? Comment.

by M. Molendyke

  • Dana B.
    Jul 2nd, 2009 at 19:57 | #1

    This article is extremely interesting yet disheartening. It is difficult to understand how the United States has done so little to improve national standards, while also providing no leadership for the global community. How is America going to sustain its reputation as the most powerful country in the world if it can barely sustain its own population’s need for energy without degrading the global environment.

  • Molly
    Jul 2nd, 2009 at 20:10 | #2

    I agree! It strikes me as sad that the US has a much larger potential workforce, industrial infrastructure, and natural resource base than some of its peers in the G8, yet we have done little to improve our standards. Apart from the greed and refusal to accept data that seem to plague our country’s decision making today, aren’t industry leaders and lawmakers scared of the ramifications of global climate change? No one can blame this frustrating ranking on the rough economy either– everyone knew about global warming before the stock market went south!! However, I was happy to see that the WWF (an unbiased body) found the Obama administration forward-thinking, positive, and innovative when it comes to climate change legislation– perhaps next year we will garner a higher ranking!

  • Molly
    Jul 9th, 2009 at 10:06 | #3

    UPDATE: The G8 met yesterday and failed to pass a climate bill that would have cut global emissions in half by 2050 and would have stimulated the global economy! Instead, they ratified economic plans and reaffirmed that they “would” keep global warming to 2 degrees celsius per year…

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