With the 2010 UN climate talks due to start in Cancun on November 29th, a new study rating 183 countries on their CO2 emissions from energy use has identified United Arab Emirates, Australia, USA, Canada, Netherlands and Saudi Arabia as the six nations with the worst performance in relation to CO2 pollution.
The CO2 Emissions from Energy Use Index (CEEI) is produced by global risk advisory firm Maplecroft to raise awareness and help companies identify their risk exposures. It also helps to identify those countries which may be subject to future regulation of CO2 emissions or pressure from public interest groups to address emissions. The index is calculated by evaluating countries’ annual CO2 emissions from energy use, CO2 emissions per capita, and cumulative CO2 emissions from 1900 to 2006 to provide a complete picture of a country’s CO2 polluting record.
UAE (1), Australia (2), USA (3), Canada (4), Netherlands (5) and Saudi Arabia (6) are bottom of the ranking and the only countries rated as ‘extreme risk’ by Maplecroft on the basis of their high CO2 emissions from energy use.
The poor performance of UAE and Saudi Arabia is reflective of a near 100% reliance on fossil fuels and their use of energy intensive desalination plants to produce drinking water. Saudi Arabia was the 11th highest global emitter in 2008 with 466 MtCO2. However, the desalination process that produces 70% of the country’s drinking water accounts for 50% of CO2 emissions. UAE dropped 15 places from last year to take the bottom spot due to a huge 25% jump in its overall carbon output between 2006 and 2008 and a 20% rise in per capita emissions. Maplecroft recognises that desalination is a positive way to address water security but high emissions underline the need to find more energy efficient innovations.
CO2 Emissions from Energy Use Index 2011
© Maplecroft, 2010
Australia, last year’s worst performing nation, remains ahead of USA on per capita emissions with 20.82 tCO2 per person against 19.18 tCO2 per person for the USA. A vast majority of Australia’s electricity is sourced from coal (44.5%), which is a key factor in Australia’s per capita emissions and the carbon intensity of energy in the country, which is 20% higher than the global average. USA (3) and Canada (4) both achieved decreases in emissions per capita of 3.13% and 8.92% respectively, as well as reductions of 1.2% and 7.12% in their annual emissions from energy use. However, both countries remain extreme risk in the index.
According to Maplecroft, the index takes on particular significance for business when viewed through the lens of the upcoming climate talks in Cancun. “As the world moves towards a low carbon economy, more rigorous environmental policies may leave companies exposed to costly operating expenses and new investment requirements,” said Maplecroft’s Head of Maps and Indices, Fiona Place. “Energy intensive sectors, such as the extractive sector and logistics, will be particularly vulnerable, but all areas of business need to monitor the associated risks.”
The Netherlands is the only European country to be rated ‘extreme risk.’ Natural gas discoveries in the 1980’s saw consumer prices in the country drop, which pushed it towards a high carbon economy. Emissions have since increased due to sustained economic growth; with annual per capita rates of 15.86 tCO2 and total emissions of 264.01 MtCO2. Germany (13), UK (15) and France (24) all saw decreases in emissions between 2006 and 2008, but this could be attributable to the economic downturn and they are rated as ‘high risk’ due to both high emissions per capita and high historical emissions.
The world’s largest overall emitter of CO2, China (26), is rated as high risk in the index. Despite the country registering the highest globally recorded CO2 emissions in 2008 at 6533 MtCO2, its per capita emissions are less than 20% of that in Australia, and its cumulative emissions of 99,204 MtCO2 pale against the 323,916 MtCO2 emitted by the USA since 1900. China’s recent high emissions reflect its huge economic growth, a reliance on coal as a fuel source, and large increases in the use of cars and household appliances throughout its population. China’s president, Hu Juntao, has responded with an ambitious call to cut emissions per unit of economic output by 40-45% of 2005 levels by 2020.
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