US Slips in Climate Rankings

US Slips in Climate Rankings

The US took a major tumble in the latest global climate rankings, according to Columbia and Yale’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI), falling from 24 to 43 out of 180 countries. The biannual assessment looks at indicators, including climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality. Also ranked as number 20 of the 22 wealthiest democracies in the Global West, the report says the US is "lagging its peers. Much of its decline in this critical decade is tied to Trump-era rollbacks, coupled with slow progress under the Biden Administration to quickly change policy on the ground.

MSNBC: Climate Change Is Our Greatest Existential Threat, January 3, 2022.

Why This Matters

Despite climate pledges to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, few countries are on track to actually achieve those targets with current policies. That’s bad news for the planet and for us. Since the pandemic, emissions and air pollution levels have gone right back to where they were, even though the science is clear that getting off fossil fuels and curbing greenhouse gas emissions is what’s needed. Binding national policies are key to the level of change necessary.

"We think this report’s going to be a wake-up call to a wide range of countries, a number of whom might have imagined themselves to be doing what they needed to do and not many of whom really are,” Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy that produces the report, told the New York Times.

Reuters: World could see 1.5C of warming in next five years, May 10, 2022.

Denmark Does It Right

Denmark and the United Kingdom were the only two nations on track to hit their (legislatively binding) goals. Denmark’s commitment is more ambitious than most, aiming to reduce emissions to 70% of 1990 levels by 2030. The country has scaled up wind energy while creating a clear end to oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

"This is such a comprehensive transformation of our entire society that there’s not one tool that you can use, one policy you can use overall, and then that will just solve the problem,” Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s climate minister, told the NY Times.

TED: How Wind Energy Could Power Earth ... 18 Times Over | Dan Jørgensen, March 12, 2022.