USA took the top spot in Rio but which country tops the climate change medals table?

USA took the top spot in Rio but which country tops the climate change medals table?

By Will Bugler

The USA may have finished top of the Olympic Games’ medal table (as they very often do) but when it comes to climate change they are not even close (ranking 31st). So which countries come towards the top of the climate change medals table? And (just for fun) how does that compare to their performance in Rio?

First of all it’s important to start with a proviso (as any good medal ceremony should): These results are based on Germanwatch and CAN International’s Climate Change Performance Index 2016 (CPPI) so if you are interested in the methodology behind it then please take a look there. The researchers awarded no country any of the first 3 spots in their ranking as ‘no country is currently doing enough to combat dangerous climate change’ so here the medals are handed out for 4th-6th places.

Anyway without further ado…. Topping the pile for the 5th year running (exhibiting Usain Bolt-like dominance) is Denmark! Silver goes to the U.K. (mirroring their Rio performance) and Bronze to Sweden! Well done them.

Click to enlarge:

According to the CCPI report:

• “Denmark leads the CCPI ranking due to effective climate protection policies for energy efficiency and the promotion of renewable energies have already been implemented, making Denmark a role model in terms of climate protection. Nevertheless, in comparison to last year, Denmark lost some ground; the distance to the UK and Sweden is closing and some commenters see Denmark, with its new government, at risk of losing the leading position. Experts are concerned about recent developments: the questioning and cancellation of existing climate and energy targets, and budget cuts for climate protection measures. 

• This year, the United Kingdom enhanced its placement in the CCPI from 6 to 5. Coming from a relatively low emissions level, the country continues to expand its renewable energy sector; this has been rewarded with an improvement of twelve places in this category. In November 2015, the government announced a conditional nationwide coal-phase out with a settled deadline. 

• Sweden, last year’s 2nd-ranked country, lost its previous ranking to the UK but finds itself still with a good overall ranking. The country leads in the efficiency category and slightly improved its score in the ‘emissions level’ category. Sweden has one of the highest shares of renewables in the European Union and is therefore rewarded with a placement in the upper range. However experts criticise the government for squandering the good results of the country’s previous efforts.”

Let’s take a look at the medal table top 30:

 Rank  2016 Olympics Top 30 (rank in the 2016 Climate Change Index)


2016 Climate Change Top 30 (rank in the 2016 Olympics medals table)


1 U.S.A. (31) Denmark* (28)
2 U.K. (2) U.K.* (2)
3 China (47) Sweden* (29)
4 Russia (53) Belgium (35)
5 Germany (22) France (7)
6 Japan (58) Cyprus (no medals)
7 France (8) Morocco (no medals)
8 South Korea (57) Italy (9)
9 Italy (11) Ireland (62)
10 Australia (59) Luxembourg (no medals)
11 Netherlands (35) Switzerland (24)
12 Hungary (17) Malta (no medals)
13 Brazil (43) Latvia (no medals)
14 Spain (41) Hungary (12)
15 Kenya (no ranking) Romania (47)
16 Jamaica (no ranking) Portugal (78)
17 Croatia (21) Lithuania (64)
18 Cuba (no ranking) Croatia (17)
19 New Zealand (42) Germany (5)
20 Canada (56) Finland (78)
21 Uzbekistan (no ranking) Indonesia (46)
22 Kazakhstan (60) India (67)
23 Colombia (no ranking) Slovak Republic (37)
24 Switzerland (14) Iceland (no medals)
25 Iran (54) Mexico (61)
26 Greece (33) Czech Republic (43)
27 Argentina (48) Egypt (75)
28 Denmark (1) Slovenia (45)
29 Sweden (3) Poland (33)
30 South Africa (38) Greece (26)


Download the full report by clicking here.

Cover photo by  Beat/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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