The Climate Change Performance Index 2018, a gauge of which countries are doing the most and which are doing the least in the battle against emissions, once again featured three blank spots at the top of the table, as no country in the world is doing enough to tackle the problem. Next year will be another crucial one in deciding what kind of world we’ll leave to the next generation. And some countries are doing better than others.
China ranks as one of the worst polluters in the world, and anyone who has visited one of its major cities will have seen the smog and witnessed the harm of emissions in action. However, the most populous country on the planet is starting to take some major steps to curb its emissions, and 2018 will be a big year for these efforts. At the start of 2017, China halted plans for 103 coal power plants, and in the coming years has committed to renewable energies.
The Chinese government announced it would invest more than $360 billion into renewable energy by the end of the decade, so major projects can be expected in the year to come. China also wants to ensure around half of its energy is produced via renewable means by 2020.
Morocco has been making major moves in fighting climate change for some years. The country made the right to a healthy environment and sustainable development part of its constitution in 2011, and has since gone about making that promise achievable. The country was sixth on this year’s Climate Change Performance Index, a year in which it built the first section of Noor 1, a solar power plant so big it can be seen from space. In 2018 parts two and three of that project are set to be completed, most likely making it the biggest solar plant in the world with the capacity to provide energy to at least a million people.
Sweden took the highest possible spot on the Climate Change Performance Index 2018, and has introduced legislation to make sure it exceeds the goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Sweden’s government voted to approve the Climate Act, which will come into action in January 2018, and will ensure the country reaches net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The Paris Climate Agreement says countries must reach carbon neutrality by 2050, so Sweden’s plan is one of the more ambitious. The only country with more than a million people that has set a more immediate goal is Costa Rica.
In 2018 Australia will begin building one of the largest solar thermal power plants in the world. Work on the plant, which is set to cost around US$510 million, is expected to be completed in 2020. The 150-megawatt structure is to be built in Port Augusta in South Australia.
This type of plant differs from a normal solar power plant due to the ability to store solar power as heat. The Australian plant will likely be the largest of its kind when construction is completed.
The U.S. will do nothing to battle climate change in 2018, if the current administration has its way. America is the only country in the world not signed up to the Paris Agreement, and the arrogance, ignorance, and profiteering of its leadership threatens to derail any attempts to curb any efforts to fight environmental disaster.
But there is still hope. A total of 384 U.S. mayors representing 68 million Americans have pledged to uphold the Paris Agreement regardless of the president’s decision. “We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5°C target, and work together to create a 21st-century clean energy economy,” the mayors wrote in a joint statement.