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The U.S. isn’t taking aggressive enough action — or much action at all — on climate change, according to a report released today by the World Wildlife Fund and German insurer Allianz. In fact the “G8 Climate Scorecards” place the U.S. at the bottom of the Group of Eight on climate action.
Sadly, the U.S. isn’t alone with its poor performance. Even the leaders — Britain, France and Germany — were called out for their slow progress on emissions reductions, despite Kyoto commitments. Regine Guenther, director of the WWF Climate Change Program in Germany, told reporters that the three nations are making about half the cuts to carbon emissions needed to stop global warming.
The rankings, compiled by Dutch consultant Ecofys, are largely unchanged from those released in 2005. Looking more closely, however, the report suggests that the U.S. is poised to move up the list, thanks to state-led initiatives and the upcoming presidential election. “The next administration will likely show much stronger leadership on climate change,” the report authors note optimistically. (Follow our Green Campaign Watch coverage to see if the candidates are up to the challenge.)
The largest opportunity for most nations — including the U.S. — is continued investment in energy efficiency, particularly in the building and transportation sectors. A study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, released earlier this year, pointed to untapped opportunities in energy efficiency that could cut energy consumption, cost effectively, 25 to 30 percent over the next 25 years:
Our findings indicate that in an environment of accelerated market transformation and rapid growth in efficiency investments, total investments in more energy efficiency technologies could increase the annual energy efficiency market by nearly $400 billion by 2030, resulting in an annual efficiency market of more than $700 billion in 2030.
That’s good news for cleantech companies looking for new markets for their products. The report also notes the need for a global carbon trading market, which could have similar market implications.