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Climate Scorecard
Jamais Cascio, 10 Aug 05

wwfgauge.jpgThe World Wildlife Fund has assembled a useful and interesting set of numbers (PDF) on the climate performance of the G8 countries, along with selected rapidly-developing nations. Using an easy-to-grasp (and only slightly ironic) "power meter" or "gas gauge" metaphor, each country is rated on conditions such as changes to overall carbon output, emissions per capita, emissions per GDP, and energy efficiency. Each indicator has its own gauge, and the countries are given overall scores, as well. It's probably little surprise that no country does better than a middling score, as each of the highest-rated G8 nations (France, Germany and the UK) has some key indicator that lags its otherwise good performance; it's probably even less of a surprise that the US does worst of all. The non-G8 nations (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) are given scorecards with numbers but no ratings, reflecting their developing status.

All but one of the G8 countries (ahem) manages to score well in at least one indicator. Interestingly, the two indicators that show good results in the highest number of countries (5 out of 8, in both cases) are emissions per GDP (also known as energy intensity) and "transport" emissions per capita (i.e., planes, trains and automobiles). I think this is a very good sign. I consider these two to be particularly important indicators, as they reflect different aspects of overall economic energy efficiency. Improvements in emissions per GDP reflects both a shift towards renewable power and greater efficiency in both production and consumption of goods and services; improvements in transport emissions per capita reflects in part a growing "dematerialization" of the economy, a shift away from physically hauling people and goods around as a way of doing business. Or, to think of them as slogans, the first is doing it better and using less, while the second is doing it smarter and using less.

The summary table from the document is excerpted in the extended entry, but I strong encourage interested readers to check out the full document.

wwfscorecard.jpg

(Via Development Gateway)

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Comments

Interesting scorecard, more interesting is the inherent bias in favor of nuclear fission electrical generation. France, Italy, the UK and Japan all got neutral ratings on their CO2/Kwh ratio. France's nuke power was 77% of production over the last 10 years (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/nshare.htm). Japan is still right at 30% 8 years after their de-nuclearizing initiative. Germany has gone up to 33% (10% increase) in the same period. Interestingly, the US and UK both dropped to below 20% over the same time.

France and Germany got positive scores overall, and have either increasing use of fission or overwhelming existing use of fission generation. If this is prescriptive, time to build more nuke plants.


Posted by: Brian Fulmer on 10 Aug 05

It's problematic that they don't have disaggreate data for renewables- in Canada that includes a lot of dams that aren't necessarily good for the environment. At least the WWF mentions owns up to this problem (adding a caveat to Canadian data, and a more prominent warning about nuclear for France).

It takes some 5 to 6 years to build a nuclear plant (estimates vary), so there's no way we can build anything that will be carbon-neutral by 2010- although that does seem to help some countries' scorecards.

The most important thing about this type of data is seeing where we could have the most leverage. A lot of environmentalists believe energy efficiency in industry is a problem- but most are decreasing their ratio of CO2 to value produced.


Posted by: Daniel Haran on 10 Aug 05

One thing I have always wondered when reading these reports is how do we know any of the data is accurate anyway?


Posted by: wintermane on 11 Aug 05

The WWF report gives citations of source, wintermane, and they're largely national governmental bodies. To an extent, the numbers are estimates -- nobody can measure *exactly* how many tons of carbon are put into the air, at least not plausibly -- but estimates based on a variety of measurements, known physical properties of the materials and processes involved, and widely-accepted modeling.

In short, the "real" numbers would undoubtedly differ from the governments/WWF numbers, but (a) in a broadly similar manner across the surveyed countries, so relative positions would remain the same, and (b) very probably not by an amount that would be significant in the context of this kind of work.


Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 11 Aug 05

Ah... so given how much various governments have cheated before we can deduce that we arnt just going to hell in a handbasket but that said handbasket is on fire covered in nuke waste and was prolly made by the lowest bidder and isnt up to safety spec;/


Anyone else keep having that damn 80s song its the end of the world as we know it going in thier head?


Posted by: wintermane on 11 Aug 05



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