Canada’s climate change performance 6th worst this year

And that’s despite rising 3 spots in the index.

Last month, the Germanwatch released its 2023 Climate Change Performance Index, and I thought I’d highlight how Canada fares, relative to the rest of the world.

Germanwatch is an independent development, environmental, and human rights organization that lobbies for sustainable global development.

Before we get to Canada, I just wanted to highlight Denmark, which topped the index at 79.61.

Denmark ranks 4th in this year’s index and is once again the frontrunner. Overall, the country receives a high rating but was unable to achieve an overall rating high enough to enter the, still vacant, top three. Despite its relatively strong showing, Denmark’s performance remains unaligned with limiting global warming to 1.5° C.

They have committed to reducing emissions by 70% before 2030, compared with 1990 levels, and they’re aiming for climate neutrality by 2050. After two years with the 70% target, however, according to the independent Danish Council on Climate Change, the country has made significant progress but those efforts still aren’t sufficient to meet that target. The reduction gap from 2030 has been lowered by 10 million tonnes CO2. However, if the emissions from bioenergy were included, the gap would be even larger: Emissions from biomass were (in 2020) roughly 16 million tonnes.

Rounding out the top 10 are Sweden, Chile, Morocco, India, Estonia, Norway, United Kingdom, Philippines, and Netherlands. Of these countries, only Norway and the UK dropped from 2022. Sweden remained in second place behind Denmar, and the rest all increased in the index.

So, what about Canada?

Well, it’s not that great.

Canada ends up in 55th place, (well, technically 58th, but the top 3 spots are empty) which may not seem that bad, given that there are nearly 200 countries in the world, but the index has only 60 countries.

In other words, Canada’s performance was the 6th worst of all countries in the index, ahead of only Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Korea, and Russia.

On the plus side, we were even worse last year, 3 spots lower than where we are this year.

Canada’s performance rates very low overall, with “very low” in greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, and energy use categories, but a “medium” for climate policy.

While the Climate Change Performance Index experts welcome Canada’s Emissions Reduction Plan, which was released this past March, they emphasise that this plan, as well as the country’s current nationally-determined contribution were not 1.5° C-compatible and must be considerably strengthened.

According to the CCPI report, Canada is among the 20 countries with the largest developed oil and gas reserves and plans to increase gas and oil production by more than 5% by 2030. This is not compatible with the 1.5° C target.

CCPI experts criticize Canada’s continuing fossil fuel subsidies and fossil fuel extraction. Despite commitments to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, these subsidies continue because of a lack of implementation and a focus on insufficient/false solutions, such as carbon capture and storage, as well as fossil-based hydrogen.

Here}s a graph showing Canada’s energy use per capita compared to its own 2030 target, and Paris Accord targets.

And here is greenhouse gas emissions per capita compared to 2030 targets and Paris Accord targets.

While emissions do seem to be dropping, our energy use hasn’t. Even so, that decline, as you can see, is nowhere close to meeting the Paris Accord targets. And as long as our per capita energy use continues at the same level it has for the last 30 years, we won’t reach the Paris Accord target, and may not even meet our own 2030 target.

To become aligned with a well-below-2° C trajectory, the CCPI advises that the Trudeau government must enhance its nationally-determined contribution and strengthen their Emissions Reduction Plan. In doing so, it should outline deadlines for most measures and strategies and provide a clearly defined pathway to achieve net zero by 2050.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

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