Monday, May 16, 2022

The Green Future Index 2022

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The Green Future Index is a ranking of 76 countries and territories based on their progress and commitment to building a low-carbon future. It measures the extent to which their economies revolve around clean energy, industry, agriculture and society through innovation, policy and investment in renewable energy sources.

Research for The Green Future Index 2022 ended in January 2022, ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That conflict is likely to have far-reaching and ongoing implications for the sustainability efforts of countries around the world. While MIT Technology Review Insights has tried to provide the most accurate information, we can expect the economic, social and political environment to continue to change.

The Green Future Index 2022 is the second annual comparative ranking of 76 countries and territories (representing approximately 95% of global GDP) on their ability to develop a sustainable, low-carbon future for their economies and societies. As in the first year, the index was developed through in-depth primary and secondary research processes. Secondary research included the review of several hundred articles, research reports and papers in scientific literature, and news and legal analysis journals. Primary research was conducted through more than 20 in-depth interviews with global experts on climate change, green energy and decarbonization technologies.

This research process formed the basis for our evaluation and selection of 22 different country-level data sets to form the indicators of the index. The data comes from a wide variety of publicly available sources, including the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO), the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Climate Action Tracker (CAT).

Where it was necessary to fill in gaps, we expanded and refined existing datasets by conducting additional detailed research on selected countries and consulting with global experts. This has been done in the indicators for climate policy and carbon finance initiatives, and in new indicators added to this year’s index, in particular in defining the “readiness” of carbon capture and sequestration and in developing estimates for the penetration of electric vehicles (see the section “What is different in the 2022 Green Future Index?”).

The indicator data sets were converted into ranked scores in two ways. For quantitative statistics, such as growth rates or values, each data point for each country was scaled up or down using minimum-maximum normalization to develop a set of scores for all countries for that indicator. For data that was largely qualitative or non-standard, a ranking system was developed and each country was given a score. After scoring all 22 indicators, they were organized into five separate pillars. The structure of this second edition of the Green Future Index remains largely the same as that of 2021, with a few indicators added to increase the coverage of sustainable activities (see the section “What’s different in the 2022 Green Future Index?”)

Pillar 1: CO2 emissions – This pillar measures how effectively countries are reducing carbon dioxide emissions in general and in key sectors. The indicators within this pillar are:

  • Total CO2 emissions in 2019, in millions of tons, relative to GDP
  • Average annual change in carbon dioxide emissions between 2014 and 2019, both in total and for each of the industry, transport and agriculture sectors

Pillar 2: Energy transition– This pillar assesses the contribution and growth rate of renewable energy sources, and now includes nuclear energy. The indicators within this pillar are:

  • The growth of renewable energy production in gigawatt hours between 2014 and 2019
  • The percentage of energy from renewable sources in the final energy consumption in 2018
  • The growth of nuclear energy production in gigawatt hours between 2014 and 2019
  • The percentage that energy from nuclear generation accounted for in the final energy consumption in 2018

Pillar 3: Green society – This pillar measures the efforts of government, industry and society to promote green practices. The indicators measure:

  • The number of LEED certified green buildings in 2020, per million urban population
  • The percentage of solid waste recycled as a percentage of total waste managed
  • The net change in forestation between 2015 and 2020: an indicator that combines the change in the area of ​​forested land from naturally regenerated primary growth with changes from planned afforestation projects
  • The stock of electric passenger cars per million urban population in 2020

Pillar 4: Clean Innovation – This pillar measures the innovation environment for building a low-carbon future, such as relative penetration of green patents, investments in cross-border clean energy and investments in food technology. The indicators measure:

  • Growth in green intellectual property as measured by the increase in patents registered for sustainable technologies or processes and solutions between 2013 and 2018, relative to GDP
  • The amount of investment a country received and provided for clean energy efforts between 2014 and 2018, as a percentage of GDP
  • The number of food technology (“foodtech”) startups per million urban population

Pillar 5: Climate policy – This pillar measures the ambition and effectiveness of climate policies, including carbon financing initiatives, sustainable agricultural policies and the use of pandemic recovery spending to deliver a green economic recovery. The indicators include:

  • A qualitative assessment of policy action to achieve the stated climate goals in line with the Paris Agreement and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
  • A qualitative review of policy and regulatory frameworks to promote carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) efforts
  • A qualitative assessment of measures taken by each country to create financial incentives for companies and investors to allocate costs to carbon emissions, by levying carbon taxes and creating a market for carbon bonds and emissions trading systems
  • A qualitative assessment of sustainable agricultural policy, assessment of the completeness and effectiveness of implementation
  • An assessment of the extent to which Covid-19 recovery stimulus packages will accelerate decarbonisation, resulting in a “pandemic pivot” along two measures:
    1. Impact on the energy transition: countries score on the share of stimulus spending focused on new energy initiatives versus fossil fuel projects
    2. Green stimulus initiatives—Countries score on the percentage of total stimulus spending allocated to sustainable, low-carbon key public infrastructure projects (such as transport, water, public spaces and information)

These pillars are constructed to comprehensively evaluate each country’s green future across two dimensions: the progress they have made towards achieving carbon reduction targets and other climate-friendly societal activities, and the ambitions the country must achieve to become a carbon neutral maintain the economy. The first four “progress pillars” account for 60% of the weighting in the index. The fifth pillar, climate policy, measures the extent to which investment and policy activities are channeled into green infrastructure initiatives and legislative frameworks. Together, these factors are, in our view, the main driver for creating and preserving a country’s green future, which is why this pillar accounts for 40% of the index weighting.

MIT Technology Review was founded in 1899 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We are a leading voice on climate change issues with a dedicated topic on our website for the global climate emergency, including innovations that can accelerate decarbonisation and national climate policy initiatives.

MIT Technology Review Insights is the custom publishing division of MIT Technology Review. We conduct qualitative and quantitative research and analysis worldwide and publish a wide variety of content, including articles, reports, infographics, videos and podcasts.

If you have any comments or questions, please get in touch.

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