A new report shows how badly the Trump administration slashed the U.S.’s climate credentials

June 1, 2022, 10:31 AM UTC

The U.S. has never been a leader in fighting climate change, but the country’s environmental credentials tumbled even lower under the Trump administration, according to the latest Environmental Performance Index (EPI) from Yale University.

“In particular, [the Trump administration’s] withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and weakened methane emissions rules meant the United States lost precious time to mitigate climate change while many of its peers in the developed world enacted policies to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” the authors of the report, released Wednesday, wrote. 

The U.S. ranking on the biannual report, which grades 180 countries based on 40 environmental performance indicators, dropped to 43 overall, down from 24 in 2020. Among its peers—other wealthy democracies in the “Global West”—the U.S. placed 20 out of 22, beating out only Portugal and Canada. 

Denmark, which the EPI notes has doubled its economy while halving its greenhouse gas emissions over “the past few decades,” is ranked No. 1. The U.K., which has likewise cut emissions almost in half since 1990, ranked second. 

Most of the data Yale University used to compile its 2022 ranking actually comes from 2019, the report says, which means that although the Biden White House has since taken action to rehabilitate environmental programs scrapped under the Trump administration, it will take time for the data to reflect the results.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions roughly 7% between 1990 and 2020, with an 11% cut in 2020—likely due to the pandemic slowdown.

The EPI, which is wary of government data, accepts that U.S. is reducing carbon emissions, albeit not nearly fast enough to meet Biden’s bid to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. In fact, the U.S. is on track to be one of the four countries—along with China, India, and Russia—responsible for half of global emissions in 2050.  

According to the EPI report, only “a handful” of countries, including the U.K. and Denmark, are on track to meet commitments of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Major countries have much more work to do than they may have realized if the world is to avoid the potentially devastating impacts of climate change,” Professor Dan Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, said.

Eamon Barrett


Raid on greenwashing 

German police raided the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt on Tuesday, after regulators accused the bank’s asset management wing, DWS, of greenwashing over $1 trillion worth of financial products. DWS’s former head of sustainability publicly accused the bank of overstating the environmental credentials of its products last August, kickstarting regulatory probes. Sky News

Accidental demand

Toucan is a crypto project designed to strengthen offset markets. In theory, Toucan users buy up low level carbon credits—like those issued by decades-old hydropower dams—leaving only more expensive and meaningful credits for polluting firms to buy. The idea is to raise the cost and efficacy of offsets for major carbon emitters, like oil majors. But the financial mechanisms Toucan uses to incentivize this project have backfired, and created a liquid market for companies to sell low-grade carbon credits. Bloomberg

Can’t sell coal

Australian energy and telecoms firm AGL abandoned a plan to spin-off its three coal mines, after Mike Cannon-Brookes, the billionaire tech founder of software company Atlassian, acquired a 11.3% in the company and led a shareholder campaign to block the move. Following the defeat, AGLs chairman and CEO plan to step-down. Rather than divesting from its coal mines, Cannon-Brookes would rather AGL—Australia’s largest carbon emitter, according to the Financial Timesshut them down. FT

OPEC minus?

Some OPEC members are considering excluding Russia from a deal on increasing oil production, as sanctions against the OPEC+ member prevent Russia from meeting its targets. Russian oil production is expected to fall 8% this year. Suspending Russia’s participation in the agreement could open opportunities for other OPEC countries to pump more oil and take advantage of high prices. The cartel has made no formal announcement of the consideration to ditch Russia, and OPEC+ will meet on Thursday. WSJ


Sustainable design should start with the chili-stained shirt you throw away, says Levi product head Paul Dillinger by Colin Lodewick

How eBay embraced ‘circular economy’ lingo in the age of sustainability by Nushin Huq

Chile’s lithium mining dilemma: Reconciling economic opportunity with environmental concerns by Genevieve Glatsky

Climate disclosure mandates will irreversibly transform real estate—and supercharge the low-carbon market by Diane Hoskins

What happens when a car company with a checkered record on the environment hires a climate scientist by Bernhard Warner

Big oil consultant resigns with scathing email to 1,400 executives asking them all to ‘look in the mirror’ by Chloe Taylor



Lithium could be one of the most important minerals to the revolution in green energy. The element is currently a vital component in electric car batteries and, potentially, grid energy storage systems. But the global shift to electrification has charged a run on lithium, winding prices up 500% in the past year. From a consumer standpoint, the current cost of lithium translates to roughly an extra $1,000 on the price tag of an electric vehicle.

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