The GGEI Library contains reports, data packs and other insights published in the public domain. We encourage use of this content in media articles, publications, academic research and presentations. This content is categorized in reverse chronological order below. For additional information, please contact Jeremy Tamanini here.
3/22/21 - Net Zero Pledges: Green Progress or Greenwashing?
Sustainability buzzwords sometimes feel like topics trending on Twitter: top of mind one day and nearly forgotten the next.
Consider the case of net-zero pledges, announced by a growing number of countries and companies as a way to communicate climate ambition. Are these commitments substantive? Our recent update on country progress towards 2015 Paris goals with KnowlEdge srl suggests most countries are reducing the emission intensity of their economies too slowly (access the study here). And a recent study by Data-Driven EnviroLab and New Climate Institute looks specifically at net-zero pledges and reaches a similar conclusion (access the study here).
There are some other simple ways to dig below the PR to see if these pledges made by countries and companies are really substantive:
- Countries: does the country in question commit to interim emission reduction goals for the short-term (2025/2030) alongside longer-term ones? The Climate Action Tracker actually quantifies what this should look like, estimating that the United States would need to reduce emissions by 60% (inc. LULUCF) by 2030 to achieve President Biden's goal of being net-zero by 2050.
- Companies: does the company in question include scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in their net-zero pledge? Scope 3 emissions from company supply chains are often the largest contribution to the overall footprint and the most difficult to measure and track. Corporate net-zero pledges that exclude these Scope 3 emissions are often suspect.
As global momentum builds for the upcoming COP26 in November, it is important that raising climate ambition doesn't become an exercise in "creative accounting," a category that some (not all) net-zero pledges fall under.
10/14/20 - Can AI & Machine Learning Accelerate a 2020s Green Breakthrough?
We are pleased to release a new Insight today: "Can AI & Machine Learning Accelerate a 2020s Green Breakthrough?" The Insight is authored by our strategic advisor Karuna Ramakrishnan (Facebook Public Policy) and builds on research over the past year exploring how new approaches to data can accelerate green progress and address the climate crisis.
Click here to access the full Insight.
In addition to providing an overview of where AI and machine learning stand in 2020, this Insight mentions more than 50 new companies, organizations and initiatives active in this space. It also provides:
- Examples of how individual data can be better leveraged to track environmental topics like air quality, predict EV charging patterns, and optimize water use.
- Cases where companies are using AI & machine learning to improve agriculture management, promote energy efficiency, and reduce Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity for company operations.
- Ways that sovereign data can be transformed to better track compliance to climate agreements, price bonds to account for ESG factors, and optimize the use of renewable energy for power production and infrastructure.
6/23/20 - Results from the "Climate Moment 2020" Modeling
Since the Paris Climate Conference in 2015, we have been working with KnowlEdge srl to track country progress towards emission reduction targets set at COP21. As the 5-year anniversary of COP21 approaches, we are releasing a new paper describing where countries stand today.
This new paper contains profiles for 11 countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, United Kingdom and the United States. For each country, we explain its potential at emission reductions based on a "low carbon scenario" post-COP21; the actual performance; and reasons for divergences between their potential and actual performance.
Some key takeaways from our research:
- Only 4 of the 11 countries analyzed - Brazil, China, India and Korea - over-performed the low carbon scenario simulated for their market in 2015. The paper offers explanations for this over-performance, as well as for countries that fell short of their low carbon scenario.
- Every country - with the exception of Indonesia and the United States - has accelerated the transition to low carbon in the past few years, when compared to the decade proceeding 2015 (i.e. 2005-2015). Learn more about this GDP Carbon Intensity Ratio here.
- All 11 countries will need to reduce the carbon intensity of their economies significantly to achieve NDCs targeting 2030, with Canada (-56%) and China (-51%) having the most work to do.
- Our Insights from the 2010s offer background on the policy and market dynamics that have supported or hindered country progress.
4/28/20 - Survey Results from "Getting to a 2020s Green Breakthrough"
You are first to see the results from our recent survey "Getting to a Global Green Breakthrough in the 2020s." This survey asked our database of green economy experts to assess how policy, markets, and people can align to realize a green breakthrough in the 2020s, as well as what we can learn from the successes and challenges of the 2010s.
Access the summary and raw survey results here.
At this critical juncture for public health and sustainable development, we are leveraging our 2020 Global Green Economy Index™ (GGEI) update to reveal new insights for our subscribers and clients, with this survey being the first example. Later this year, we will be updating the GGEI performance index for 130 countries, with a focus on identifying progress (or lack thereof) over the past decade (more on that in a few months).
1/28/20 - New Decade, New Approach? Getting to a 2020s Green Breakthrough
As the scale of the climate crisis intensifies, the discourse around how to address it often feels stuck in old paradigms. And the resistance from deniers has hardened. We have to do something differently in the 2020s to realize green progress. But what is this new approach and how can we learn from the 2010s to inform it?
Today, we are asking you to participate in a short, anonymous survey to give your candid opinions about how policy, markets, and people can align to realize a green breakthrough in the 2020s. Give your input by clicking here. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete.
We will publish a summary report with the results from this effort in a few months, addressing the following issues:
- What is holding back the Paris Agreement and what events have contributed to the sharp rise in climate awareness in the 2010?
- How can investors and businesses be activated in new ways to transform how we think about realizing a green breakthrough?
- Where can activism make the greatest difference and how can citizens be mobilized in new ways?
11/12/19 - What is the Business Roundtable Talking About?
On August 19th, the U.S.-based Business Roundtable made an intriguing announcement. They stated that the purpose of business extended beyond just creating shareholder value. Instead, a corporation's commitment to stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers and communities) mattered more.
This is good PR and likely affirms the approach many companies are already taking, particularly as investment capital increasingly flows to companies with higher ESG ratings. Given the references to corporate environmental performance in the statement, we explored our GGEI data to see where these companies stand on putting words into action:
- Indeed, corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) of clean energy have surged in the past two years, with the 13.4GW signed in 2018 by 121 different companies representing almost half of the total PPAs signed over the past decade.
- But in terms of concrete commitments to emission reductions, progress is more tepid. To date, 285 companies have approved science-based targets (SBTs) for emission reductions from their operations. But of the 181 signatories to the recent Business Roundtable statement, only 14 have approved SBTs.
- Globally, the recent GGEI analysis of climate action in the largest companies by market cap in the 130 countries covered shows that the majority of these companies had no published climate action plans, much less submitted SBTs for verification.
Companies and other private sector actors continue to leverage our work in sustainability measurement to generate bespoke frameworks suited to their sectors and diverse green strategies. Our first Insight of the year offered an example of how we approach this work, in case you missed it back in January.
10/22/19 - Green Innovation on Islands
With 30% of residents in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) living at 5 meters above sea level or less, populations are acutely vulnerable to climate change. While this vulnerability has successfully translated to global advocacy, less has been said about green innovation on islands and the capacity of these places to produce scalable climate technologies.
The recent Virtual Island Summit presented a variety of intriguing examples of island green innovation:
- The Common Sensing Initiative (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu) developing satellite-based information services and remote sensing technologies to enhance climate resilience;
- Africa's 1st floating solar photovoltaic project (Seychelles) with estimated 4 MW capacity;
- The Ser-Thiac accredited forest carbon project (Pacific Islands) based on indigenous land rights;
- Algas Organics (Saint Lucia) converting invasive Sargassum seaweed to agricultural products.
The recently published Atlas of the Green Economy based in data from the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) includes country profiles for the following island states: Cape Verde, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, Sao Tomé and Príncipe, Cyprus, Malta, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. We are working towards expanding the coverage of island states in the upcoming 10th anniversary GGEI later in 2020.
9/18/19 - Changing the (English) language of climate change
In 2009, global leaders were talking about "green stimulus" as part of fiscal rescue packages linked to the financial crisis. In 2019, Democratic candidates for the U.S. presidency are pitching different versions of "green new deal" spending. In the past decade, has the way we talk about green growth and climate change evolved?
The Global Green Economy Index™ (GGEI) has been tracking the language around green economy and climate change since first being published in 2010. Our research reveals how stagnant and sometimes counterproductive (English) language around these issues has been. Some examples:
- The phrase climate change tends to play into the trap of climate skeptics, who like to split hairs over skewed interpretations of climate science. Let's all start calling it what it is in 2020: a climate emergency.
- The constant references throughout the past decade to the green transition can alienate workers. For many professionals - from office towers to the factory floor - transition is HR-lingo for layoffs.
- Globally recognized definitions and tracking of green jobs by country or sector have remained unrealized in the past decade. Part of this is due to the narrow linkage of green jobs to industries like renewable energy. Let's broaden this definition to the wide-range of sectors where sustainability can be embedded and measure accordingly.
The 2020 GGEI will focus on assessing progress and pitfalls in this realm over the past decade. Our green progress reports are already empowering clients to look at trends in perspective and identify the main areas requiring progress.
6/27/19 - Forecasting & the U.S. Green New Deal
Hopefully, the outlines of a Green New Deal (GND) will be clarified in the upcoming U.S. presidential election cycle. Even the GND's most enthusiastic backers concede there are lots of details to work out. One of the most important ones is: will this government spending actually reduce emissions in the United States beyond the business as usual scenario?
I posed this question to Dr. Andrea Bassi, one of our strategic advisors and a leading modeler of national green economy transformations through his consultancy KnowlEdge srl. He emphasized that legislation like the GND lacking sound, underlying modeling can often allocate spending inefficiently against goals like emission reductions or growth in renewable energy. And while public engagement with climate change may be growing in the U.S., legislation based on targets, sector transformations and timelines with no basis in reality can come back to haunt climate initiatives, giving ammunition to skeptics that these government interventions are unrealistic and wasteful spending.
He also shared some examples of how forecasting could strengthen the GND:
- Project if government spending through the GND will reduce emissions and energy consumption, and what the trade offs - if any - are between economic performance, jobs and emission reductions. This analysis is critical to counter the critique from GND opponents that it will stunt economic growth (see recent Indonesia study: click here).
- Reveal how government spending through the GND would impact sectors (e.g. energy) and citizens (e.g. households, employment). By calculating these tangible economic impacts, debate around the GND is informed by concrete projections on different sectors of the economy and actual voter impacts (see Sustainable Asset Valuation SAVi: click here).
- Calculate other "what if" scenarios that bring policy makers and citizens in debate around modeled outcomes from different policy interventions. While fact-based discourse tends to be fleeting around climate change, calculated "what if" scenarios can be useful counterpoints to the barrage of skewed facts that will surely emerge if and when the GND becomes actual legislation (see Tackling Complexity: click here).
In late 2015 during the Paris Climate Conference, we published (in collaboration with KnowlEdge srl) a study projecting some of these economy-wide impacts of the U.S. pledge (review it here).
5/16/19 - New Atlas of the Green Economy
We are proud to announce the publication today of the 1st Atlas of the Green Economy for the Francophonie. Conceived by the Institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable (IFDD) and based in data from the recent 2018 GGEI, the Atlas evaluates the green economy performance of the 88 Francophonie members and observers. It includes profiles for each member and insight on how the diverse Francophonie network can promote green growth across borders in the future.
Access the Atlas by clicking here.
Some key takeaways for the four Francophonie regions include:
- Economies in Francophonie Africa generally have much lower (better) values for emissions per unit of GDP and emissions per capita. But this could worsen as economic development accelerates. Francophonie Africa have some of the lowest environmental performance in the Francophonie.
- The majority of countries in Francophonie Europe are reducing the emission intensity of their economies, but not rapidly enough to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degree Celsius. Energy efficiency improvements across all sectors will be critical to accelerating the pace of these improvements. Also, market strengths around topics like green innovation and corporate sustainability are limited to just a few countries in Francophonie Europe.
- Canada has one of the lowest climate change performance results in Francophonie Americas and globally. Uneven provincial commitments to emission reductions and the lack of a coherent national approach continue to impede progress. Most island economies have a very low contribution of renewable energy to electricity production. Increasing the share of renewable energy would improve resilience against natural disasters amplified by climate change, as well as energy security.
- Many countries in Francophonie Asia Pacific/Middle East with some of the highest GDP growth rates in the world also rank poorly on topics like air quality and forests that are vital to economic, environmental and social wellbeing. Most countries with large reserves of fossil fuels have almost no contribution of renewable energy to electricity production.
4/22/19 - Green Progress...Is There Any?
After publishing the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) for 8 years, our focus is increasingly directed to the question of progress. Are countries making any? If yes, what is driving it? If not, what is holding it back? Is progress happening in some areas but not others?
Since 2010, we have collected an expanding time series of quantitative (e.g. emissions per unit GDP) and qualitative (e.g. national head of state commitments to green growth) indicators to assess green progress. The recent 2018 GGEI results (accessible here) show the data time series available for each of the 130 countries covered. To learn more about the green progress reports that these data can generate, contact me here.
These reports for decision makers can be enriched in the following ways:
- Assessing national green progress based on the 20 GGEI indicators, as well as more traditional growth metrics (e.g. GDP), social equity measures (e.g. Gini), and other supplemental topics
- Evaluating private sector progress in terms of how well companies in different markets are integrating sustainability to their operations and supply chains, leveraging both GGEI data and external sources (e.g. CDP, Trucost, Science-Based Targets)
- Supporting international organizations, think tanks and other NGOs with a mapping of progress and/or backsliding to inform future programs, research and advocacy campaigns
3/12/19 - Artificial Intelligence & the Green Economy
AI refers to the ability of machines to process, interpret and sometimes act upon information in a manner similar to humans. In the green economy space, AI may offer new opportunities to leverage data, text, images and the patterns within them to measure sustainability, promote efficiency and better target policy interventions (see: Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for the Earth, World Economic Forum). There is already evidence of these emerging applications from the following companies and initiatives:
- Analyzing and interpreting unstructured ESG datasets to better inform green investments (TruValue Labs)
- Mapping global biodiversity through contributions from citizen scientists, with algorithms providing species verification (iNaturalist)
- Acting on data intelligence gathered across the electrical grid to optimize energy efficiency (Agder Energi)
- Detecting and removing weeds automatically using AI algorithms and cameras in agriculture (Blue River)
Over the next year, we will be testing new approaches to data collection and measurement for the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) based in AI and automated data processing. Can AI reveal new, sharper insights from unstructured GGEI datasets related to the commitment of actors and institutions to green growth? Can it accelerate data collection and localization from structured GGEI datasets related to renewable energy, air quality or forests?
2/13/19 Data Pack - Does Democracy Promote Green Economy Progress? Cross-index comparison between the GGEI and EIU 2018 Democracy Index
One question we've explored of late is the relationship between governance and climate/green economy progress. Is democracy "good" for gains in these areas? Or, does centralized government control enable faster progress?
The recently released Democracy Index 2018 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) provides some insight to this question when compared to the 2018 Global Green Economy Index. The key takeaways:
- Despite being one of the few countries registering as a "full democracy," Australia has consistently ranked in the bottom quartile of the GGEI. Australia is the only "full democracy" where this is the case.
- On the other hand, "authoritarian" countries like China - and Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Cambodia to a lesser extent - perform quite well on the GGEI. However, the majority of countries in the bottom quartile of the GGEI are either "authoritarian" or "hybrid regime."
- While the link between weak governance and poor environmental stewardship in Africa is well documented, Kenya and Zambia both perform in the top quartile of the GGEI, despite having "hybrid regime" (far from full democracy) political structures.
- The top GGEI performing countries generally mirror the top ones from the 2018 Democracy Index, most notably the Nordics, Germany and Switzerland.
Access the data pack: Link (Excel file, 100 KB)
1/15/19 Insight - Create Customized Sustainability Measurement Frameworks Using the GGEI
Over the past year, we've heard the following questions a lot: can the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) be adapted to other entities beyond countries? Is the GGEI framework relevant to sub-national entities like regions or cities? Can it be used to create customized measurement frameworks for companies and other private sector actors?
The answer is yes. To illustrate how, this first subscriber insight of 2019 adapts the GGEI to create a sustainability measurement framework for an imaginary aluminum company called Aluminata. This insight suggests:
- Some GGEI topics are directly transferrable to measure a company's sustainability performance (e.g. renewable energy, green innovation, resource efficiency) while others require customization (e.g. emissions reporting, environmental impacts).
- The multi-dimensional framework of the GGEI - touching on emissions, environmental performance, renewable energy and innovation together - is well-suited to many companies where this integrated, multi-variable approach is relevant.
- The GGEI experience achieving scale (content and data from the GGEI has been downloaded over 200,000 times globally) and as an effective learning tool can guide other sustainability frameworks to realize similar impact.
Access the insight: Link (PDF file)
12/11/18 Data Pack - Expert Perception Survey Results from the 2018 GGEI
The annual COP climate conference concluding this week is a prime opportunity to assess national green reputations against the reality of outcomes. Three years removed from the Paris Agreement and a decade or less away from exceeding the 1.5°C global carbon budget, time has run out for hollow green declarations. Climate-related pledges will mean less and less in the next decade if they aren't accompanied by concrete progress validated by data.
The GGEI has been analyzing the intersection of green reputations (how do global experts "perceive" country behavior around various aspects of the green economy) and green performance (what is actually happening) since 2010. In the new GGEI edition this year, our 5,000+ strong network of global experts weighed in on how they rank country performance around climate change, sector decarbonization, green markets and the environment. Today we are releasing a data pack with these aggregate results.
Access the data pack: Link (Excel file, 100 KB)
10/30/18 Data Pack - Dimension-Level Results from the 2018 GGEI
This new data pack contains the GGEI results for 130 countries on the four main "dimensions" of leadership & climate change, efficiency sectors, markets & investment and the environment.
As you will see, country performance varies considerably across these four GGEI dimensions. Countries with relatively low carbon footprints can have dismal environmental records. And countries with high emission intensity can be the most vital markets for green innovation and investment. The green economy is multi-dimensional and sometimes counterintuitive, and the GGEI can clarify, track and improve understanding and performance over time. The key takeaways:
- African countries with low economy-wide carbon intensity top the Leadership & Climate Change dimension of the GGEI, while the United States and Australia are at the bottom due to obstructive positions from leadership and their large carbon footprints. While rhetorical commitments to the goals set at the Paris Climate Conference continue, the GGEI has yet to detect significant movement on climate change performance in most countries.
- The Nordics plus Colombia, Singapore, Switzerland and Austria are leading in sector decarbonization on the Efficiency Sectors dimension, with expanding green building certification, renewable energy contribution to electricity production and clean transport, while many fossil fuel dependent economies rank near the bottom (e.g. Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Qatar and Russia).
- China lags behind the United States, Germany, Japan and the Nordics in performance on the Markets & Investment dimension because the strength in renewable energy markets there has not yet translated to high enough levels of innovation of green products and services or data-driven and verified sustainability initiatives in Chinese companies.
- Environment performance in some of the most climate-vulnerable countries in Africa and South Asia requires immediate attention, particularly Water & Sanitation and Water Treatment. While many of these countries are beginning to integrate green economy development planning, returns on these efforts are not yet reflected in their GGEI results.
Access the data pack: Link (Excel file, 100 KB)
9/18/18 Data Pack - Aggregate Results from the 2018 GGEI
This data pack contains results from the new 2018 Global Green Economy Index™ (GGEI). This 6th edition covers 130 countries (up from 80 in the 2016 edition). Like in past years, the GGEI is an integrated measurement of how each country performs around climate change, sector decarbonization, green market development and the environment.
Unlike in past years, we are releasing a series of data packs related to this new GGEI, so you can more easily review, share, publish and learn from the data this product generates. The key takeaways:
- Sweden is the top GGEI performer for the 3rd straight edition, joined by the other Nordics, Switzerland, Germany and France in the top 10. Taiwan and Singapore are the top performers in Asia; Colombia and Costa Rica in Latin America; and Kenya in Africa.
- Renewable energy investment (China) and green innovation (United States) are still strong, but both countries continue to have mediocre overall GGEI results due to their slow pace of sector decarbonization, poor air quality (China), and poor forest management (United States).
- Corporate sustainability initiatives are surging in the U.S. and Western Europe, but the GGEI detected limited evidence that they are mainstreamed in the rest of the world, with the exception of Japan and Australia.
- The GGEI results across the European Union continue to be uneven, with the top GGEI performers counterbalanced by poor results in the Baltic states, Bulgaria and Poland.
- Rapidly growing Asian markets like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines do not perform well on the GGEI, a well-established trend that highlights the limits of GDP as a growth metric.
- Many countries in Africa are relatively low carbon intensity economies with higher than average contributions of renewable energy, but these factors rarely translate to good performance on other areas of the GGEI like building efficiency, transportation or the environment.
Access the data pack: Link (Excel file, 100 KB)
2016 GGEI - Summary Report
Link (PDF file)
2016 GGEI - Tableau Public Data Visualizations
2014 GGEI - Summary Report
Link (PDF file)
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