Pool ball - Photo Credit - heyourelax & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the fortieth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Week 15 of this blog featured the ‘dirty dozen’, the twelve largest emitting nations of CO2 into the Atmosphere. These twelve countries alone account for roughly 66% of all CO2 emissions.
Over the course of the last five months of this blog, I have written about fifteen countries who are currently performing well against their climate change commitments and are top-ranking countries in the latest ‘Environmental Performance Index’ (EPI) published by Yale University.
So what lessons can the ‘dirty dozen’ learn from the ‘clean fifteen’ and look to implement as part of their climate change policy? Let’s find out by reminding ourselves what behaviours make the ‘clean fifteen’ lower carbon-emitting nations.
Paris Agreement Commitments and Carbon neutrality
The ‘clean fifteen’ have made individual country climate change pledges as part of their Paris Agreement signatures. The EU as a whole has agreed to cut its emissions by 40% of 1990 level by 2030, by default the 10 EU countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, Estonia, Malta, France, and Croatia) have signed up to this goal.
Iceland, Norway and Switzerland’s Paris Agreement commitments at least match the EU’s with Switzerland surpassing it by committing to a 50% reduction. Singapore is broadly in line by committing to reducing their emissions by 36% of 1990 levels by 2030. New Zealand has agreed to an 11% reduction by 2030, however, the nation of Islands has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Five of the European countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Estonia, and France) have also committed to being carbon neutral over the next 30 years.
The percentage of electricity generated by renewable/ clean energy sources in the ‘clean fifteen’ countries is roughly two-thirds of total generation. This is in stark contrast to the ‘dirty dozen’ where at least 80% of all emissions in these countries originated in their energy sector.
Malta is the outlier within the ‘clean fifteen’ with just 2.4% of its domestic electricity generation stemming from renewable energy. Since 2015 Malta imports 50% of the electricity it uses from Italy via an interconnector, this has led to a dramatically favourable reduction in the country’s total emissions.
Sweden plans to be fossil fuel free by 2045 and Volvo will only manufacture electric or hybrid engine cars from 2019 onwards. France will ban the use of diesel and petrol engine cars from 2040 onwards. Norway has set a target of selling only zero emission engine light vans and cars from 2025 onwards.
All 15 countries have invested in CCUS research, either on a standalone basis and /or in collaboration with other countries. This ranges from legal research in New Zealand to notable or large-scale CCUS projects in Croatia, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Spain, France, Switzerland, Norway etc.
The ‘clean fifteen’ are lower carbon economies for a multitude of reasons, starting at the top with their commitment to the Paris Agreement and the policies they are implementing to achieve their Co2 emissions reduction targets. They are not reliant on fossil fuels as a source of energy and are increasing their proportion of renewables in their mix of electricity generation sources. The most ambitious of the fifteen have set targets to be carbon neutral by 2050, and have begun by switching to renewable energy and pledging to phase out fossil-fuel engine cars will help them achieve this.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and using it to enhance oil recovery.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 39 Norway: driving carbon storage and electric cars in Europe
Week 38 Desalination: water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink
Week 37 Switzerland: powering cars with carbon negative biofuel