China outpaced the US to become one of the top three G20 economies best prepared to compete in a low-carbon economy, according to an index developed by Australian think tank The Climate Institute and GE.
China leapt from seventh to third place on the Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index, which ranks G20 countries that will compete best in a world that restricts greenhouse gas emissions. China’s improvement is largely due to its increasing investment in clean energy and a rise in high-tech exports, according to the index.
The index’s rankings, using research from Vivid Economics, measure nearly 20 indicators, such as per capita energy consumption, trade emissions intensity, growth in emissions and investment in clean energy. The index was updated this year using publicly available 2010 G20 economic data.
Asia, particularly China, is poised to prosper in a low-carbon and clean energy future, says John Conner, CEO of The Climate Institute.
France tops the index, followed by Japan, China, South Korea and the UK. The US, which was eighth when the index was first established in 2009, has fallen to the No. 11 spot, the most significant drop among countries in the latest index update.
The US has fallen behind because of decreased private investment in sustainable energy, Connor says. Fuel prices in the US rose less than compared to most G20 countries, leading to growing air freight and higher emissions per capita from the transport sector.
A falling share of high-tech exports and decreasing investment in physical capital are other factors that have contributed to the US’s ability to compete in a global low-carbon economy.
A report released in March by The Conference Board found Chinese companies are slowly adopting sustainability reporting practices. One-third of companies surveyed in China share their sustainability initiatives with the outside world, illustrating some progress in the country to promote non-financial reporting.