The United States leads the world in cleantech investments, patents, renewable energy generation and electric vehicle (EV) adoption, but still is slow to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new ranking by Next 10.
Over the last two decades, however, the U.S. has become more energy productive, using less energy per dollar of GDP generated.
The Green Innovation Index, International Edition charts country GDP, emissions, energy productivity, renewable energy generation, clean tech investments and other key metrics. In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris this year, the report for the first time analyzes and ranks the economic and energy performance of the world's 50 largest greenhouse gas emitting nations.
"Some of the world's largest economies are now decoupling economic growth and energy use, actually growing their GDPs while shrinking their carbon footprints,” F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, said in a statement. “Last year marked the first time we've been able to say conclusively that a drop in global carbon emissions was caused by something other than an economic downtown.”
Spain, Germany, Italy, California, Philippines, the European Union, Belgium, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Greece have the greatest share of electricity from renewable sources, the report says. France leads the world in lowest carbon intensity of the top 50 emitters; Uzbekistan is highest (GHG per GDP).
After the U.S. and EU, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and California lead the world in clean tech patents. The EU follows the U.S. in clean tech patents (11,330 v. 18,937 in 2014), and clean tech venture capital ($1 billion v. $8 billion in 2014). According to the report, the U.S. (with California), California, EU, China, UK, Singapore, France, Canada, India and Israel are top ten in clean tech venture capital (2014).
Notably, California cut electricity use per capita by 4 percent while U.S. increased 8 percent and EU increased 17 percent between 1990 and 2012.
California’s universities also are doing their part to become more sustainable. Late last year, the University of California announced it will allocate $1 billion over five years for direct investments in solutions to climate change.
Although not measured in the Next 10 report, reducing water intensity is quickly becoming one of the largest global sustainability challenges. A recent challenge by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota found San Diego, Calif., Aurora, Colo., Torrance, Calif., Poway Calif. and Hermosa Beach, Calif. to be the cities with the highest percentage of residents making pledges during a monthlong campaign in April to promote water efficiency.