The United States and Saudi Arabia rank last when it comes to curbing climate change among the 56 nations accounting for 90 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said Monday.
A large number of laggards means the world is dangerously off-track when it comes to slashing the carbon pollution that has already amplified droughts, flooding and deadly heatwaves worldwide, they reported on the margins of UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland.
“Only a few countries have started to implement strategies to limit global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit),” the cornerstone target of the 2015 Paris climate treaty, according to NewClimate Institute and Germanwatch, an NGO.
Most governments “lack the political will to phase out fossil fuels with the necessary speed.”
Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which accounts for 80 percent of global warming, will climb nearly three percent in 2018, scientists confirmed last week.
After holding steady from 2014 through 2016 — raising hopes that humanity had turned a corner on climate change — carbon pollution started to climb again last year, driven by increased use of oil, gas and coal.
A major UN report in October concluded that CO2 emission levels must drop a quarter within 12 years to stay under 2C, and by half over the same period to cap warming at 1.5C, seen as a safer guardrail against catastrophic extreme weather.
Sweden and Morocco scored highest in the annual ranking, the survey showed, with Britain, India, Norway, Portugal and the European Union as a whole in the top tranche as well.
The three-place podium, however, was left empty because no country’s policies and actions were deemed sufficient, it said.