Efforts to tackle climate change have been taking shape for over a decade, but so far many have largely generated “empty words, loopholes and greenwash,” in the sharp words of the activist for the climate Greta Thunberg. However, 2020 ultimately created the momentum and convergence of political, private and social will for a decisive new agenda to tackle humanity’s greatest threat.
A trigger for the new dynamic is the tragedy of growing and endless natural disasters caused by global warming. The combined area destroyed by forest fires in California, Australia and the Amazon in the past year alone was the largest on record, consuming an area larger than Belarus.
The 2018 California wildfires cost the US economy $ 148.5 billion, or 0.7% of the country’s annual GDP, estimate top academics from universities, including the University College of London.
Another is the covid-19 pandemic; In stimulating a global economic recovery, governments and businesses have the choice to either ‘build back better’ by channeling innovation and investment into clean energy, industry, transportation and food, or to engage short-term gains and consolidate the polluting industries of the past.
“There are only three things that reduce emissions: efficiency and conservation, carbon capture and storage, and shutting things down.”
Center for Global Energy Policy
In this context, MIT Technology Review Insights developed the Green Future Index, a ranking of 76 leading countries and territories based on their progress and commitment to building a low-carbon future. The 76 economies are classified into five pillars which combine to form the index. These pillars are carbon emissions, energy transition, green society, clean innovation and climate policy.
Green leaders: the top 20 economies
European countries dominate the top of the Green Future Index, with 15 European countries in the top 20. Many European countries have already made progress in reducing emissions, shifting their energy production to renewable sources. and investment in green mobility. The coordinated efforts of EU member states to commit more than € 200 billion in bold investments in the green economy, as part of the European Commission’s broad post-covid recovery and resilience mechanism, will empower European nations provide additional impetus in the years to come.
“When we lose this biodiversity, we lose everything – opportunities for new economic growth and social inclusion – not just the ability to remove carbon from the air.”
Senior researcher in biodiversity
Amazonian National Research Institute
The uneven progress of many of the world’s largest economies is reflected in the index. The United States is in 40th place, partly hampered by a number of years of misdirection in climate policy, and China, in 45th place, still has a long way to go in terms of energy transition as ‘it accounts for nearly half of global net additions of wind and solar renewable energy last year. Between these two economies, however, billions of dollars have been spent on green technology innovation and transition processes – meaning both should be able to move up the rankings in the coming years. they’re genuinely committed to their declared (or, in the case of the United States, recovered) carbon neutrality goals.
Ranking of G20 economies
Note: this listing excludes the European Union
“As global and local civil society increasingly pressure Latin America to pursue decarbonization, several governments are betting on extracting fossil fuels as exports to strengthen their balance sheets, not just in the short term. , but also to bank them so that they can overcome future crises. ”
Isabel Cavelier Adarve
Co-founder and director of vision
The bottom 15 countries in the index we call ‘climate abstainers’, largely due to their inability to create and maintain firm energy transition and policy implementation goals, often in a context of dependency to fossil fuels. These include Japan which, despite recently renewed commitments, is ranked 60th – the country is still overwhelmed by traditional industries and the shadow of Fukushima. Failure to evolve policy and industrial frameworks beyond existing carbon-intensive economies drives down the scores of our lower-ranked economies: Russia, Iran, Paraguay and Qatar.