Canada’s overall ranking is sixth place on the NRTEE’s G8 Low-Carbon Performance Index.
Canada falls within what can be considered a second tier of tightly grouped low-carbon performers, along with the U.S. and Japan. The first-tier countries are—in order— France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Italy and Russia can be considered to be in the group of third-tier countries, significantly lagging behind the rest of the G8 nations.
France’s low-carbon profile outperforms all nations primarily as a result of an electricity generation mix dominated by nuclear. It performs well in the areas of R&D investment, low-carbon skills and education investment, and has directed significant funds to low-carbon projects through its stimulus spending.
Germany demonstrates the most well-balanced low-carbon performance of all G8 nations, ranking in the top three across nine indicators. Its use of market incentives and requirements to drive increased renewable energy generation over the past decade has led to the second largest drop in energy-related carbon emissions within the G8. A strong commitment to education, skills, and investment, coupled with the highest carbon price coverage in the group, puts Germany in a strong low-carbon performance position.
The United Kingdom ranks just behind Germany in its emissions profile, largely due to a shift from coal to natural-gas-fired generation as well as an overall transition from a manufacturing to service economy. The U.K. dominates the area of low-carbon policy and institutions, having established a Low-Carbon Transition Strategy and a Low-Carbon Budget and having the third most stringent carbon pricing coverage among the G8. Performance gaps include both private and public sector energy R&D investment, although the government has directed significant funding through its Low-Carbon Transition Strategy to begin financing renewable energy and carbon capture and sequestration technology development.
Japan is considered to be one of the world’s most energy efficient economies. Having achieved early, relatively low-cost reductions, it now faces the prospect of more challenging and costly improvements. Japan’s carbon productivity has remained high over the last 15 years. It has high absolute emissions that have continued to grow, but the size of the economy has grown at a comparable pace. Japan is positioning itself to compete in the global clean technology market, and in line with its reputation, is considered a world leader in low-carbon innovation.
The United States’ economy is emissions-intensive, and emissions are growing. However, the U.S. exports less carbon than all other G8 countries. While GDP growth outpaced emissions growth over the 1992–2007 period, leading to an overall decrease in emissions intensity, absolute emissions have grown 18.09%, second only to Canada in the G8. The U.S. leads the way in venture capital investment in clean technology, an important indication of technology leadership and clean technology manufacturing capacity. It is strong in the investment category. The U.S. gains in the Policy and Investment category as a result of the appointment of a “climate change czar” by the Obama administration, and the presence of a carbon market through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Italy consistently ranks near the bottom across all categories and most indicators. Italy has the lowest percentage of low-carbon electricity generation among the G8. Its carbon productivity profile is relatively high, largely as a result of its industrial makeup. Italy scores poorly across all categories, although it faces relatively stringent carbon price coverage as a result of its latest National Allocation Plan target.
Russia lags the G8 across almost all indicators, finishing last in four of five categories. While having achieved the largest improvement in emissions intensity over the assessment period (minus 70%), this drop is largely due to the economic transformations occurring within the Russian economy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Energy generation is largely coal-fired and projected to increase, and the country is a major net exporter of natural gas to western European markets. The country’s relative strength in this Index lies in its technical capabilities, with Russia ranking third in low-carbon graduates.