Why doesn't America care about the environment?

13 countries in comparison : Which countries deliver on climate protection - and which don't

"Don't come with a speech, come with a plan," urged UN Secretary General António Guterres when he invited people to the Climate Action Summit in New York in March. Countries that are not involved in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, such as the USA and Brazil, will therefore not have the right to speak at the summit from Monday.

Other countries will present new plans for climate protection. China, the world's largest emitter, is expected to be more ambitious than before. Russia may announce the long awaited ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement. In addition, there is to be an initiative of the International Labor Organization for more jobs through climate protection.

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Denmark and Ethiopia want to set up a “cooling coalition” to provide cheap and clean air conditioning solutions for the global south. These are urgently needed in times of increasing earth overheating. Together with Sweden, Denmark wants to provide further funds to finance climate protection in developing countries.

However, before the summit, China and India themselves asked for more money to finance climate protection. This shows the different positions of the countries around the world that are supposed to work together on climate protection but have different interests. They are determined by the type of energy supply, the available resources and the standard of living in the individual countries.

Temperatures are rising everywhere

But there is also a connecting element: Temperatures are rising everywhere. How exactly, the British climate scientist Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading clearly visualized with his "heat strips". Most of the "warming stripes" are based on data sets from the University of Berkeley - originally created by a climate change skeptic.

Based on data from the German Weather Service, there is also a version for 1000 cities - the graphics can be called up on the website energy-charts.de, which was set up by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems. The recognizable regional differences show the complexity of climate change.

Meanwhile, a tram with the Warming Stripes is driving through the city in Freiburg, the environmental organization WWF sends silk scarves with the stripes as a reminder and the ZDF meteorologist Özden Terli wears them sometimes as a tie and sometimes in a self-knitted version. Hawkins is providing the graphics free of charge. The clarity and the easily understandable message of the colored stripes are repeatedly praised: Climate change is here, it is measurable and visible - it is time to act. The question is: What are the individual countries doing to stop it and are they failing in the fight for more climate protection? Here are the answers:

Germany: CO2 price is far too low

How much is the country contributing to climate change? With its two percent share of global CO2 emissions, it is often said that Germany cannot save the world. But it's also about setting a good example. This also helps at home: Germans have long been familiar with the hot summer. On a Wednesday in July, the heat record was broken in Geilenkirchen: 40.5 degrees.

What is the country doing to protect the climate? Above all, the Fridays for Future movement has put pressure on politicians to take care of more climate protection - also to create more climate justice around the world. The federal government has now named measures with which it wants to safely achieve the climate targets for 2030: purchase premiums for e-cars, cheaper train tickets, more expensive flight tickets should achieve this.

The price of CO2 is initially only ten euros per tonne of CO2 - far too little, say climate experts, to really achieve anything. The Federal Government justifies the low entry level with the fact that it does not want to endanger social cohesion in the country. In Germany, too, poor people suffer particularly from climate change.

It is quite possible that the German resolutions presented by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday in New York are not among the most ambitious.

Further texts on the federal government's climate package:

Spain: Gigantic solar systems under construction

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Since 1990, Spain's emissions have increased by 15 percent due to economic growth. At the same time, as in all major European economies, coal consumption fell. The reason for this was the expansion of renewable energies - in Spain above all hydropower. This reduced CO2 emissions in the energy sector. On the other hand, they have increased in traffic and in industry.

What is the country doing to protect the climate? Spain wants to reduce its emissions by 21 percent by 2030. This is in the country's energy and climate plan, which Spain, like all EU members, submitted to the European Commission for the first time this year. Spain intends to phase out coal by 2030. Nine of the 14 coal-fired power plants are to close by 2020. After 2030, the last nuclear power plant should also go offline.

The resulting gap could, among other things, close the expansion of solar power. The energy company Iberdrola is planning a solar power plant in the Extremadura region, named after the conqueror Francisco Pizarro. With an output of 590 megawatts, it will be one of the largest in Europe. Another solar power plant with an output of 500 megawatts is already under construction, also in Extremadura.

USA: Resistance to the President's anti-stance

How much is the country contributing to climate change? After China, the USA is the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. According to figures from the US Environmental Protection Agency, around 6.5 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions were caused by the United States in 2017.

If they don't go down in the US, the two-degree target is history - the country is responsible for around one sixth of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is in Washington's own best interest not to fuel global warming any further. In 2018, federal agencies listed what climate change means for the United States: extreme heat, forest fires, and droughts that will not only plague farmers, but also threaten fishing and tourism.

What is the country doing to protect the climate? US President Donald Trump wants to get out of the Paris climate agreement. He is not alone in his anti-attitude: According to studies, around 15 percent of Americans deny that the climate is changing. But at the same time there are many initiatives and citizens in the USA who are fighting for more climate protection. The states also play a major role: California, for example, has CO2 standards for cars - and has long had its own CO2 trading system.

Canada: CO2 tax and coal phase-out

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Canada, especially the province of Alberta, is doing a lucrative business of mining tar sands. This is extremely harmful to the climate, but many jobs depend on the fossil fuel. The government is not yet interfering in the extraction of tar sands. But if Canada wants to achieve its climate goals, the problem must be addressed.

The North American country is already suffering significantly from increasing global warming: the permafrost limit has receded by 100 kilometers. The landscape of the Canadian Arctic is changing massively as a result, in some cases the ground surfaces collapse due to the lack of a layer of ice.

What is the country doing to protect the climate? “Climate Barbie” is one of the nicer names for Catherine McKenna, the blonde 48-year-old Canadian Environment Minister. It was their responsibility to set Canada's climate protection target to reduce national CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. She has also arranged for a carbon tax to be introduced in Canada.

The country also wants to phase out coal power by 2030. McKenna's environmental commitment causes mixed feelings among her compatriots.

Australia: Maybe by 2032 climate-neutral electricity

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Australia is coal country. The NGO Climate Analytics gives him a damning testimony. With 62 percent coal, electricity generation is one of the “dirtiest in the world” - and Australia is falling behind comparable countries in its energy transition efforts.

Around a dozen communities in Australia are preparing for “Day Zero”, the day on which they will run out of water due to the sometimes extreme drought and have to deliver the water from the tanker. Some municipalities are expecting this in the coming months - down under it is approaching summer.

What is the country doing to protect the climate? Australia has almost unique geographical prerequisites to fully rely on wind and solar energy: high solar radiation due to the proximity to the equator, sometimes very strong and steady winds and, above all, almost unlimited space. In fact, the expansion of renewables is proceeding very quickly.

Some researchers predict that Australia will be completely green-powered by 2032. However, that would require a network and storage infrastructure that optimally distributes the electricity over the vast country. So far, this only exists in rudimentary form.

Brazil: Bolsonaro has radically cut climate protection

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Up until a few years ago, Brazil's energy-related emissions were relatively low because the country had greatly expanded its hydropower and many cars ran on the biofuel ethanol. But when Brazil recovered from a deep recession in 2017, greenhouse gas emissions also increased.

Currently, the focus is primarily on the Amazon jungle. It is true that there have been years of particularly severe deforestation in the past. Since 2006, however, it has continued to decline and emissions have fallen dramatically. Now the forests are burning again to use the land for agriculture. The development is also being driven by the great international demand for soy.

What is the country doing to protect the climate? Brazil actually has a good climate protection plan. As part of the UN climate negotiations in 2014, the country pledged to reduce its emissions by 43 percent by 2030. That was perceived as an important step at the time. The country wanted to stop illegal deforestation by 2030. But that was before the Paris Agreement was signed. Because Brazil has not yet ratified the agreement, the plan is politically worthless.

Since President Jair Bolsonaro took over government, the budget for climate protection has been cut radically. The country would have enormous potential to expand renewable energies, if only because of the high levels of solar radiation

Chile: phase out coal within 20 years

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Most of Chile's electricity comes from hydropower. But coal power also plays a central role in the South American country - so it naturally contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, Chile is feeling the effects of climate change: It is currently experiencing the worst drought in decades, and huge lakes are drying up at breakneck speed. Researchers have also noted a dramatic melting of some glaciers in Patagonia.

What is the country doing to protect the climate? Chile is hosting the next world climate conference in December. And the country wants to do without energy from burning coal in a good 20 years. “This will eliminate one of the most important sources of greenhouse gases by 2040,” Chilean President Sebastián Piñera recently announced.

“The best legacy that we can leave our children with is a country that is cleaner than the one we found.” Piñera, once the managing director of an airline, should also have marketing for his country in mind.

New PV and wind power plants should make the country less dependent on electricity imports from neighboring countries. Due to the drought, hydropower is no longer a guarantee of a secure electricity supply. So the bottom line is that there is a lot of geopolitics in the Chilean energy transition. It's good if it serves to protect the climate.

Russia: Putin relies on nuclear power

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Gas and coal-fired power plants account for the largest share of the Russian electricity supply. Russia is the second largest oil and gas producer in the world. Its economy depends on the export of these raw materials. At the same time, the country is feeling the effects of global warming: In summer, huge areas of the Siberian tundra went up in flames due to drought, 5.5 million hectares in August alone - more than ever before.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, smoke stood over an area larger than the European Union. The thawing permafrost soil - with melting values ​​that scientists only expected in 70 years - releases the gas methane, which is many times more climate-effective than CO2. Bursting methane bubbles create real craters. Methane from Arctic permafrost is considered one of the greatest threats to the climate.

What is the country doing about climate change? President Vladimir Putin warns against an “absolutism” of renewable energies. Russia relies primarily on nuclear energy. The first floating nuclear power plant to supply Arctic regions recently set sail. Despite the great potential, wind, solar and bioenergy supply only one percent of the Russian electricity supply.

China: Gigantic growth in green electricity

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Residents of the Kenyan island of Lamu are protesting against an energy project financed by China: China is building a coal-fired power plant there - as in many other places in the world.

While the government in Beijing is slowing down the construction of new coal-fired power plants in its own country for health and climate protection reasons, it is promoting the export of the technology to developing and emerging countries in order to preserve the jobs of its coal industry. China itself is the world's largest emitter of CO2 with a 27 percent share, but has recently been able to slow down the growth in its emissions. From the year 2031, China's CO2 emissions are likely to decrease.

What is the country doing about climate change? Energy policy in China is not negotiated democratically and socially, but decided without further ado in the power center of the communist party. China is pulling up wind and solar parks in a hurry, without much consideration for the local population. From 2021 to 2030, China plans to add 80 to 160 gigawatts of solar capacity annually.

The wind is also growing rapidly - according to a forecast by the Danish wind energy market research company Make, it will have 400 gigawatts of wind power in 2027. For comparison: Germany currently has 60 gigawatts.

India: solar power, wind power and afforestation

How much is the country contributing to climate change? For India, it is above all a challenge to reconcile economic growth and climate protection: coal power is booming and, with it, national CO2 emissions have risen rapidly. India, with its 1.3 billion inhabitants, has a share of seven percent of global emissions - only about half as much as the USA. Per capita emissions have also remained at a low level.

Almost 50 degrees in India's capital New Delhi - this temperature mark shocked the world in June. Just a month later, Mumbai in western India was hit by severe flooding. The climate crisis has already fully gripped the subcontinent.

What is the country doing about climate change? India relies on renewable energies: 100 gigawatts of electricity are to come from solar energy by 2022, 60 gigawatts from wind energy.

India has also set itself goals for afforestation as part of the global forest program "Bonn Challenge": Trees are to grow again on 21 million hectares of damaged land by 2030 - this corresponds to six percent of the total area of ​​India. By 2030, the proportion of non-fossil fuels is to grow to 40 percent. It is estimated that India will achieve this goal before then.

Indonesia: Lots of new coal-fired power plants

How much is the country contributing to climate change? Among the emerging economies, Indonesia is one of the heavyweights in terms of CO2 emissions. This is also due to the large population of 260 million people. However, their ecological footprint is much smaller than in Germany: All together, they only account for 65 percent of Germany's carbon dioxide emissions.

But as in many other countries in the global south, emissions from deforestation destroy the climate balance: They are more than twice as high as those from the use of fossil fuels. The fires in the large peat bogs also make the balance negative.

What is the country doing about climate change? Indonesia exports oil and coal, but wants to become less dependent on demand and consume the coal itself. That is why many new coal-fired power plants are being built.Together with Turkey and Vietnam, the planned power plants will have a capacity of around 160 gigawatts. That would roughly correspond to the output of all currently existing coal-fired power plants in the EU.

Recently, however, President Joko Widodo announced that he would switch to renewable energies. Under the Paris Agreement, Indonesia has pledged to reduce its emissions by 29 percent by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual scenario.

Zambia: massive expansion of green electricity - under certain conditions

How much is the country contributing to climate change? The pure carbon dioxide emissions from Zambia are around 200 times lower than those from Germany. At least 17 million people live there. The picture looks different if one also includes deforestation, which is one of the most violent in the world: the total emission of greenhouse gases is one eightieth of that in Germany.

Like many other countries in the global south, Zambia is already suffering from the consequences of climate change. Above all, these are more frequent and severe droughts and flash floods, which repeatedly claim fatalities. The droughts, in turn, are also damaging the country's energy supply, which is largely based on hydropower.

What is the country doing about climate change? By 2030, Zambia aims to reduce its emissions by 25 percent compared to 2010. With extensive international support, the country would even commit to a 47 percent reduction.

But Zambia is primarily concerned with adapting to climate change. This includes irrigation systems and early warning systems that work with satellite data and are intended to warn and protect against flash floods.

Morocco: Expansion of wind and solar energy

How much is the country contributing to climate change? The annual CO2 emissions are only around eight percent of those in Germany. But from 1990 to 2012, total emissions rose 138 percent. Most of them came from power generation, the second largest factor being traffic. The few forests in Morocco are a sink for greenhouse gases. The predominant tree species, the atlas cedar, is itself threatened by climate change because it is sensitive to the increasing summer heat. In addition, the problem of water shortages in Morocco is growing.

What is the country doing about climate change? Morocco aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 42 percent by 2030. Like Zambia, Morocco makes the move away from “business as usual” dependent on support from the international community.

In order to make itself independent of oil imports, on which the country has so far been particularly dependent, the kingdom is expanding renewable energies. The solar power plant in Ouarzazate is one of the largest in the world. There are also ambitious plans for wind power. As early as 2020, next year, renewables should cover 40 percent of the electricity supply.

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