ECIU Comparator Tool reveals surprising results

Paraguay leads the world in low-carbon energy, and Bhutan has made the most ambitious pledges on cutting emissions, a new online comparison tool launched today reveals.

France and Canada lead the G20 states in deriving energy from low-carbon sources, including nuclear, and thirteen G20 states have seen a more than 100 percent increase in solar capacity since 2013.

These are some of the surprise findings from the ECIU Comparator Tool, launched today (Thursday 3 Dec) at the UN climate summit in Paris.

Produced by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), the Comparator Tool aims to be the most comprehensive resource anywhere for information on countries’ progress and pledges on climate change and renewable energy, known as intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs.

To access the tool, click here.

“This isn’t the flashiest resource you’ll find – no whizz-bang graphics, no integrated video clips – but if you want all the essential information in one place, we think this is one of the best sources,” said Richard Black, director of the ECIU.

“This tool gives people the opportunity to uncover the facts behind the INDCs, to select their own metrics for comparing countries or blocks of countries, and uncover some hidden stories.” 

Screenshot-2015-12-02-18.04.57

An example of the tool in action: comparing percentages of low carbon energy across the G20

The Tool uses information from, amongst others, the United Nations, World Bank and the World Resources Institute, and will be updated as new information becomes available. It enables users to select comparisons including UN negations blocs, information on energy sources and carbon intensity, and many other metrics.

It shows that Paraguay generates almost 100 percent clean, renewable energy already, getting most of their electricity from hydropower, which is also exported to neighbouring countries.

Bhutan’s INDC, or national emissions reduction commitment, stands out as the most ambitious of the 180 UN member states that have submitted plans. Bhutan is already a carbon sink, but the country plans to increase forest cover as well in an increase in its determination to tackle climate change. 

Green-energy-project-in-Bhutan-Asian-Development-Bank

Green energy project in Bhutan. Image: Asian Development Bank, Creative Commons licence

Richard Black said that the tool enables people to look beyond existing metrics on climate and low-carbon technologies, revealing some surprising results.

“Most people wouldn’t put Bhutan at the top of any global list, except perhaps the one for being apparently the happiest country in the world, but this tool reveals that even the smallest states are serious about addressing the risks posed by climate change,” he said.

“If you pause, though, you realise that as a small state high in the Himalayas, Bhutan faces disruption to water supplies, extreme weather and impacts on ecosystems as a result of changes to the climate, so it is in their interests to address the problem both domestically and through the UN climate process.”

The tool also reveals that, comparing G20 nations, France derives a very high percentage of energy from low-carbon sources, including nuclear power, at 46.7 percent. The next highest G20 state is Canada, at 23.3 percent, with the UK at 10.8 percent.

Eurodif-Nuclear-Power-Plant-France-IAEA-Imagebank

France derives 46.7% of its energy from nuclear power. Image: IAEA Imagebank, Creative Commons licence

The tool also exposes the dramatic increases in global solar capacity per capita over recent years. Thirteen G20 countries have seen a more than 100 percent increase in solar capacity, with South Africa’s solar capacity per capita growing by over 1,000 percent [since 2012].

Richard Black said the rapid pace of change in renewable and low-carbon technologies formed an important backdrop to the negotiations taking place in Paris.

“One of the main differences between the failed Copenhagen summit in 2006 and Paris is the real-world transformation in low-carbon technologies,” he said.

“The efficiency of renewable energy sources like solar and wind has improved dramatically and prices, particularly for solar photovoltaic power, have plummeted.

“The effect has been an eruption of investment and installations, which is turn are disrupting traditional power grids based on centralised generation and fossil fuels. This year renewable energy technologies have become cost-competitive with fossil fuels, without subsidies, in some markets and major utilities are beginning to move away fossil fuels for electricity generation.

“These are trends which will accelerate with a successful outcome in Paris – but even without a strong deal, it’s difficult to see them slowing markedly. The future is assuredly low-carbon; it’s only the pace of the transformation that is in question.”