Still no country is doing enough to keep global temperature rise well below 2C – the target set five years ago in the Paris Agreement, a new report warns.
The US came last out of 57 countries for its climate policies.
Recent moves by the Trump administration, including formally withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and scaling back federal environmental protections, put the US behind other low performers such as Saudi Arabia and Australia, the report says.
The findings come from the 2021 Climate Change Performance Index, an annual report tracking how countries are responding to the climate crisis.
The document is put together by green groups including the NewClimate Institute, the Climate Action Network and Germanwatch. It tracks the progress of 57 countries plus the EU, which together account for around 90 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Though the UK came second for climate policies, behind Sweden, it was given an official ranking of fifth, because the report authors left the first, second and third spots blank to reflect the fact that no country is currently doing enough to limit global warming to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels.
“This year, through our different indicators, we see that no country is yet on track to avoid dangerous climate change. Because of this, we think that no country deserves to be on the podium,” Jan Burck, a report author and senior adviser at Germanwatch, told The Independent.
The report tracks each country’s progress by looking at its annual emissions, its renewable energy development and its national and international climate policies.
The UK ranks highly because it is doing more than other countries to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, said Mr Burck, and because it has invested heavily in developing renewables such as offshore wind.
But to gain a spot on the podium, the UK will need to do more to turn its ambitious emissions reduction targets into action, he added. This weekend Britain hosts the Climate Ambition Summit, ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow next November.
On Thursday, Boris Johnson announced that the UK will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 68 per cent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.
“That’s why the UK is a frontrunner at the moment,” said Mr Burck. “But setting the targets right doesn’t mean that you’ve set the policies right. That has to be the next step.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies