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slow progress Switzerland improves climate ranking but NGOs call for more ambition

Alain Berset

Swiss President Alain Berset at the podium during the COP24 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland.


Switzerland moves up three places to 9th in a ranking of country climate performance. But, NGOs say more ambitious action is needed by all countries and results don’t capture Switzerland’s significant emissions abroad. Sweden tops the ranking followed by Morocco and Lithuania.

The latest Climate Change Performance Indexexternal link was released on Monday to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland. The ranking is developed by NGOs Germanwatch, CAN Europe and the New Climate Institute with the aim to put political and social pressure on countries to take more ambitious action on climate protection.

The ranking is also intended to inform amended national climate targets that countries are expected to submit in 2020 under the UN Climate Agreement signed in Paris in 2016.

The index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 56 countries and the EU that are, together, responsible for nearly 90% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The index uses 14 indicators covering GHG emissions, renewable energy and energy use along with the compatibility of national climate targets with the Paris Climate Agreement. A review of national and international climate policies was also carried out by experts.


Switzerland ranks among the high-performing countries thanks in part to performance on GHG emissions and energy use.

However, there are some caveats to the ranking according to WWF, as noted by Keystone-SDA. The rating only evaluates CO2 emitted domestically. If emissions from consumption were measured, Switzerland would be much further down the ranking as the country imports large quantities of CO2-intensive products, creating more CO2 emissions abroad than at home.

A pioneering analysis by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO) earlier this year found that Switzerland’s total CO2 emissions, calculated in terms of its carbon footprint, was 116 million tonnes in 2015. Of these, 76 million tonnes were produced abroad.

According to the WWF, the rating also does not consider the fact that Switzerland is one of the few countries that relies more on purchasing climate certificates to offset emissions than on reducing its own emissions.

As in previous years, the first three places in the ranking remain empty, because the NGOs do not believe any country is taking sufficient action worthy of the top of the podium. The worst performers are Iran, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.


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