Ireland ranked worst in Europe for climate action again as emissions rise globally

Ireland has been ranked the worst-performing country in the EU for tackling climate change, according to the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2019.

The index, conducted by Germanwatch and the NewClimate Institute published together with the Climate Action Network (CAN), is a ranking of the 56 countries – and the EU as a whole – that are together responsible for about 90% of global GHG emissions.

Ireland was ranked 48th out of the 57 entities measured, with the collective EU 28 when measured as a unit coming in at 16th.

The four categories examined are: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 40% of the index rating; renewable energy, which accounts for 20%; energy use, making up 20%; and climate policy, taking up the remaining 20%.

Countries were categorised as: very high; high; medium; low; and very low in ratings.

Bottom of the class

Commenting on Ireland specifically, the report notes that Ireland is still rated as the worst-performing EU country in position 48 and remains in the group of very-low-performing countries.

The performance in the GHG Emissions category is rated very low and the country is also among the low-ranking performers in the Energy Use category.

Due to its increased renewable energy share over the past five years, and support schemes for renewable heat and renewable electricity which recognise community participation, Ireland is rated medium in the Renewable Energy category.

On international climate policy, Ireland was rated a medium, with the report noting commendations to the Dail for passing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, and for the Citizens’ Assembly “which produced far-reaching recommendations for climate action now being considered by a special parliamentary committee working on the development of Ireland’s National Energy and Climate Plan”.

However, the report highlighted that existing mitigation efforts will not enable Ireland to achieve either its EU 2020 or 2030 targets domestically.

The long-standing lack of implementation of substantive measures to put the country on a well below 2° pathway results in a very low rating for Ireland’s national policy performance, the report says.

Overall findings

Regarding the state of affairs overall, the CCPI noted that emissions are rising again following three consecutive years of stable CO2 emission levels.

The study found that, while there is a continued growth and competitiveness of renewable energy, the index shows a “lack of political will of most governments to phase out fossil fuels with the necessary speed”.

Almost half of the G20 countries were ranked in the very low performers, including: Japan (49); Turkey (50); Russian Federation (52); Canada (54); Australia (55); Korea (57) and – at the bottom of the index – USA (59); and Saudi Arabia (60).

Rankings for 1, 2 and 3 – the ‘very high’ performing category – were left vacant because “none of the 56 countries or the EU are clearly on a well below 2°C pathway in their overall performance”, according to the CCPI.

Sweden was ranked the highest-performing country in position 4, followed by Morocco, Lithuania and Latvia respectively.

The UK was next highest in position 8 overall.