London, United Kingdom: The European Union continues to take the lead in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, cementing its role as the global leader on climate policy. Just a few days ago, on 22-23 March, 2018, EU leaders expressed their call for the bloc’s revamped strategy in cutting down greenhouse gas emissions.
“The European Council invites the Commission to present by the first quarter of 2019 a proposal for a Strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction in accordance with the Paris Agreement, taking into account the national plans,” the Council said in a statement.
Even prior to the Paris Agreement on climate change, the EU, in 2014, already set the bloc-wide target of cutting down carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, 60 percent by 2040, and 80 percent by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels. The EU has a roadmap towards the achievement of this goal. It must be noted that the current call is in recognition of the fact that the bloc is not on track with its 2030 target. It seeks to accelerate actions to meet its commitments.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is urging the EU to be more ambitious in its climate policy, recommending an increase in the reduction of carbon emissions from 40 percent to 55 percent in 2030. “By adopting this target, the EU will be doing its share to get closer to the global ambition of keeping warming to one and a half degrees. So let’s not delay. The current Commission could start making preparations,” Rutte said.
Aside from this, the EU is also doing its fair share of putting pressure on other countries to conform to the Paris Agreement. In an earlier statement, French foreign minister Jean Baptiste Lemoyne said that his country will not support a free trade deal with the United States if the Trump administration pushes through with his pronouncement to leave the Paris Agreement.
“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground… No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The US knows what to expect,” Lemoyne said.
This strong statement was backed up by EU’s trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom who tweeted: “Paris deal reference needed in all EU trade agreement today.” As an example, the free trade deal that EU inked with Japan and the ongoing free trade deal negotiations with Mercosur countries that include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay all incorporate references to the Paris Agreement.
On a side note, US. President Donald Trump recently issued a statement that he would be willing to re-enter the Paris Agreement. “Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like [French President] Emmanuel [Macron]. I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the US,” he said in an interview.
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In a speech, Macron categorically stated that: “We cannot have trade negotiations which do not recognize the rules which we have imposed on ourselves.”
Response to the Paris Agreement
Aside from the EU, individual countries have been evaluated in their commitments to the Paris Agreement. The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2018, a publication of GermanWatch, Climate Action Network, and New Climate Institute, ranks countries according to their implementation of climate change mitigation targets. The CCPI evaluation considered three important indicators: greenhouse gas emissions (40 percent), renewable energy (20 percent), and energy use (20 percent). The last 20 percent is based on climate policy assessments. A total of 56 countries plus the EU were evaluated.
Here’s an overview of the results:
Climate Change Performance Index Bottom 5:
The bottom five is composed of the United States, Australia, Korea, Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia, ranked 56th to 60th.
The United States fell way below the rankings when the Trump administration started to backtrack on the country’s climate policies. In fact, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the leading disaster response agency, dropped climate change from its strategic document released just this month.
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions has reportedly increased again in 2017 and seems to be on a continuing rising trend, casting its Paris Agreement targets in doubt.
Saudi Arabia is the worst performing country when it comes to climate change mitigation. It currently does not have a climate policy in place. It also ranks very low in all the three indicators of greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, and energy use.
Ranked 53rd: Russia
Russia, which is among the top five emitters of greenhouse gases, is criticized for having a mitigation target that is way over the agreed-upon threshold of keeping global temperature increase to below 2°C in 2030. It seems that Russia continues to be lax in terms of its climate change policy and its implementation.
Ranked 41st: China
The largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China, is currently ranked at 41st. The CCPI reports that its “2030 reduction target and past emission trends are rated very low.” But the redeeming factor is that China wants a lead role when it comes to climate diplomacy. It must be remembered that China jointly ratified the Paris Agreement together with the United States in September 2016. This action pushed the momentum for the Agreement to enter into force.
Ranked 21st and 22nd: EU and Germany
The EU, which accounts for eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions, is ranked 21st pending more ambitious climate policies.
Meanwhile, Germany is ranked 22nd due to its continued dependence on coal and continued high greenhouse gas emissions.
Ranked #14: India
The only Asian country to have ranked in the top 15 is India. This is an important achievement considering that India is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The country’s ranking is mainly due to its high ratings in the emissions and energy use categories, according to the CCPI.
Ranked #4 to #9: Sweden, Lithuania, Morocco, Norway, United Kingdom, Finland and Latvia
Holding the highest rankings in the CCPI are EU-member countries except for Norway and Morocco. Sweden’s high ranking is due primarily to its performance in the emissions indicator. However, it still has to improve in terms of its renewable energy targets and the phase-out of nuclear energy and fossil fuels.
The UK sits at number eight because of its decreasing emissions and new climate policies such as the clean growth strategy that will lead to the phase-out of coal. However, the UK still has room for improvement in terms of its emissions and renewable energy targets.
Ranks #1 to #3: ———
According to the CCPI, the top spots in the ranking remain unoccupied because “no country has yet done enough to prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change.” Hopefully, with various countries stepping up to the challenge, the world will meet its Paris Agreement goals.
Meanwhile, let’s keep our fingers crossed for various updates on the climate change affirmative actions that are being implemented by various countries. But while doing so, we want to know, how what are you doing to help accelerate the climate change mitigation efforts? Feel free to share below.
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