Report: Countries veer away from fossil fuels, toward renewables

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Paris - An annual index released on Tuesday ranking the best and worst countries on energy issues related to climate change showed a global shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy production.

The report, issued by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (CAN), found for the first time that more renewable energy capacity was built than fossil and nuclear capacity combined.

"We see global trends, indicating promising shifts in some of the most relevant sectors for climate protection and important steps toward a transformation of the energy system," said Germanwatch's Jan Burck, the study's author.

The report evaluated 58 countries, representing 90% of the world's heat-trapping emissions, based on their production of greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels and forest degradation, development of renewable energies and energy efficiency, among other guidelines.

The ratings, based on 2013 data, showed little movement among the top and bottom climate performers, with Denmark leading the pack and Saudi Arabia in last place.

The top three positions were left blank, indicating that no country is doing what's necessary to keep global temperature from rising more than 2°C compared to pre-industrial norms.

The tipping toward non-fossil fuels for new energy capacity was based on 2014 data, which showed 59% of capacity additions to global electricity generation coming from renewable sources.

The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2015

About half of all investments in renewable energy are now coming from emerging and developing countries.

The trend of diminishing construction of fossil fuel power plants was good news for the climate talks, where 195 countries are trying to hammer out a new agreement aimed at keeping Earth cool that would kick in by 2020.

Two weeks of climate talks in Paris are to end by Friday, but issues such as finance for poor countries to help build renewable energy structures and adapt to global warming continue to be major hurdles. 

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