European leaders have vowed to continue fighting climate change after President Donald Trump announced last night he was pulling the US out of the Paris climate agreement.

So what are EU states doing – or not doing – to contribute to the bloc’s pledge of a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels?

According to a new study, only three European countries – Sweden, Germany and France – are doing enough to keep the EU on track to deliver on promises made at the COP21 summit, back in 2015.

Image: EU Climate Leader Board

The EU Climate Leader Board, co-developed by non-profit organizations Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, evaluates where countries stand on the Effort Sharing Regulation, the EU’s key legislation on emissions cuts from transport, agriculture, waste and buildings.

These sectors are responsible for nearly 60% of the EU’s total emissions but are not included in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, which covers heavy industry.

Loopholes in the law

The regulation is currently being negotiated and when it becomes law it will set binding emissions reduction targets for each EU member state for 2021 to 2030. But according to the study, countries are attempting to introduce loopholes such as calculating their emissions cuts from a starting point above actual emissions, or using forestry credits to meet targets.

The table is not only a look at where each country stands on the draft legislation, but goes further and assesses their contributions to European climate action as a whole.

Are countries pushing for the entire bloc to deliver the Paris Agreement? Do they boost EU efforts overall, or do they weaken them?

The trio of climate leaders

Sweden tops the ranking because it goes well beyond what’s required, and is also lobbying for loopholes that undermine the targets to be closed.

The Nordic nation has just committed to completely phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The goal will require the Swedish government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 85% and the remainder would be offset by planting trees or by sustainable investments abroad.

"Our target is to be an entirely fossil-fuel-free welfare state," Climate Minister Isabella Lovin told Reuters.

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Image: REUTERS

Germany and France also score well on the EU Climate Leader Board because they are working towards ambitious climate goals and pushing for change among their European counterparts.

Sweden, Germany and France are the trio of “climate leaders” pulling the others along. Despite uncertainty about Brexit and its impact on carbon targets, the UK ranks fifth on the leaderboard.

Who is letting the side down?

At the bottom of the ranking, Poland, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic are going in the opposite direction, charged with countering EU efforts to comply with the Paris targets.

The report claims these countries have been looking for loopholes to avoid reducing carbon emissions. These loopholes include cutting emissions from a misleading baseline, abusing forestry credits or exploiting the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

The study criticizes Finland and Austria for being wealthy countries that are “performing poorly”. The same goes for Ireland, accused of stalling and weakening the joint proposal, despite only having to cut emissions by 1% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.