Canada lands second-last in climate-change ranking

THE NEW CLIMATE: CURBING EMISSIONS

Canada lands second-last in climate-change ranking

ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

Canada and the U.S. are the worst countries in the G8 when it comes to taking effective measures to forestall the risk of rapid and uncontrolled climate change, according to an assessment of the major industrialized countries compiled by a European-based environmental consulting firm.

The assessment, issued today by World Wide Fund for Nature and German insurance giant Allianz SE, ranked the U.S. last among the G8 and Canada second to last because they’ve done so little to curb emissions of greenhouse gases.

Britain was ranked best, followed by France.

Canada performed poorly because of the huge emissions from Alberta’s energy-intensive tar sands, the country’s reluctance to comply with greenhouse-gas reduction targets in the Kyoto Protocol and the lack of federal regulations to cut overall emissions.

The ranking was compiled by Ecofys, a Dutch-based consulting firm, and was calculated using such factors as the growth in a country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, emissions of the gases per person, and the development of renewable energy production, among other items.

The various measures were ranked against a goal of keeping the rise of global temperatures due to human activity at less than two degrees. That amount, if exceeded, could lead to destabilizing climate changes, such as the melting of part of Greenland’s ice cap, according to many climate scientists.

None of the G8 countries are taking enough action to keep global warming below this two-degree threshold, the assessment said. “Given the urgency of the climate challenge, the G8 countries collectively still have a long way to go,” it said.

The eight countries as a group, it said, must cut emissions by “at least” 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

By mid-century, additional reductions must take emissions down 80 per cent from 1990 readings to reduce the odds of rapid warming.

The leaders of the G8 – the club of advanced industrial countries – are meeting next week at annual talks, this year in Japan. Climate change, along with the related topic of surging fossil-fuel prices, will be among the top items on the agenda.

“It’s important for the G8 countries to be compared amongst themselves because they are very critical countries to deliver on emission reductions to avoid dangerous climate change,” said Julia Langer, a spokesperson for WWF in Canada.

She said the environmental group has made common cause with Allianz on global warming because the insurance company views climate change as a major business risk that could increase claims due to extreme weather.

In a statement, Allianz urged the G8 countries “to be high achievers in the race against climate change.”

The company said a switchover to cleaner technologies could lead to increased investment, growth and job creation, and it called for the countries to promote a global market for trading in carbon-dioxide emissions.

The United States earned the lowest ranking because it has the highest per-capita emissions and a trend to even higher emissions.

The country has “very low average energy efficiency” in its household, transport, industrial and power-generation sectors, it said, with “little substantive federal measures … in place to curb emissions in the short term.”

Britain ranked best because its emissions are below its Kyoto targets, a feat the country achieved largely by switching much of its electricity sector from dirty coal to cleaner-burning natural gas.

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