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WWF Slaps U.S. Government Over Lack Of Energy Efficiency Progress

Washington D.C. - Just in time for next week’s G8 summit in Japan, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released a new report examining the progress of each of the G8 countries toward addressing climate change, a main focus of this year’s meeting. The ranking lists energy efficiency progress made in each of the G8 nations. There are very few surprises - especially the fact that the U.S. once again trails the pack.

Environmental scorecards are a rather new publicity tool that we are seeing more and more these days. Organizations such as Greenpeace or are using scorecards to shed light on what most of us are struggling to understand - the impact of our current actions on our planet. The upcoming G8 meeting is likely to provide lots of new data, ideas, discussions, proposals and arguments on energy policies. The WWF today provided a detailed summary of the current state on energy efficiency in the G8 nations and, to a lesser degree "+5" countries.

The G8 ranking is separated in three portions - the lowest scoring countries, medium-scoring and top-scoring nations.

The U.S was ranked as "the worst of all G8 countries." The WWF described the U.S. as being the "largest emitter with the highest per capita emissions and an increasing trend in total emissions." The organization recognized that "substantial [energy efficiency] activities emerge at the state level, little substantive federal measures are in place to curb emissions in the short term."

Slightly better than the U.S. was Canada with "very high per capita emissions, a steadily increasing trend in total emissions (recently revised upwards), far away from its Kyoto target and inadequate mid to long-term greenhouse gas targets." Russia came in at #6 and "ranks a bit better due to declining absolute emissions in the early 1990s and a large share of less CO2-intensive natural gas." However, the WWF said that Russia’s emissions have increased steadily since 1999 "and there is hardly any policy in place to curb emissions."

On the other end of the scale are the UK, France and Germany.

According to the WWF "Germany’s emissions declined 1990 to 2000 partly due to economic downturn in Eastern Germany but also due to national measures. Since then, emissions are stable and a gap to meet the Kyoto target is expected if no immediate measures are put in place or external credits are purchased." The organizations criticized that Germany is "politically less ambitious for electricity production from fossil fuels, facing a high share of coal and lignite and announced investment plans that
would lock Germany into a high level of carbon intensiveness for the next 40 years."

Emission rates (per capita and per GDP) in France (#2) are described as "relatively low for an industrialized country, partially due to a high share of nuclear energy (which WWF does not consider as viable policy). Emissions have been roughly stable since 1990."

The UK (#1) has made the most progress, the WWF said, with emission’s already below the Kyoto target -
"largely due to a transition from coal to gas in the 1990s." the organization noted that the fall in emissions has "levelled off since 2000 and the share of coal has again increased and emissions are expected to rise further."

Overall, the WWF claims that the energy efficiency potential is not tapped. "Although large potential exists to save energy and money at the same time, all G8 countries have insufficient policies
in place to overcome barriers to energy efficiency," the organization said.

"Countries’ programs are incomplete focusing on only some aspects such as appliances or buildings. Efficiency improvements in transport are usually not sufficiently encouraged. Japan scores well on dynamic efficiency standards for appliances and cars but leaves energy performance of buildings and in the power sector uncovered. Canada, USA and Russia rank last on energy efficiency with broadly insufficient or lacking policies," the report states.