12/09/2014 05:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Grades Are in!

As professors we evaluate our students at the end of a term and assign grades to reflect their level of learning. The Climate Action Network Europe (CAN) and GermanWatch have compiled a list of "grades" for 58 countries that are responsible for 90%of global energy related emissions.

CAN and Germanwatch Press Conference at COP20 in Lima

To put this in stark terms that anyone that has been a student can understand, there are no A's for countries when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The best performers are currently earning B's (11 countries), sixteen countries are average (C) meaning that they are making no progress towards curbing Climate Change, there are fifteen that are earning D's and are still headed in a negative direction or actually enhancing Climate Change. The bottom of the class includes 15 F's, countries that have no policies, or policies that actual encourage burning more fossil fuels.

There are some bright countries. A few countries are working hard at improving by reducing emissions and promoting renewable energy. According to the report, Denmark "...sets an example in how industrialised can not only promise, but also implement effective climate protection policies". Morocco is identified as one of the biggest movers in a positive direction "...the kingdom has not only adopted ambitious renewable energy targets, but also supported its commitment with an increasing number of solar and wind projects as means to secure climate-compatible development."

India occupies the bottom rung of the C countries after climbing five places from last year because of lower level per capita emissions, while their overall emissions continue to increase dramatically.

We find the United States in the D category with China right behind. These global leaders in emissions are only two places short of the F group. The US suffers from an "...anti-climate majority in congress" and China "...continues to invest in unsustainable large scale waterpower projects and plans to build many new nuclear power stations."

Australia and Saudi Arabia are the worst flunkies, sitting at the bottom of the F group. Australia has reversed almost all of its climate policies and the Saudis continue as the highest per capita CO2 emitters on the list.

As this COP moves forward, ALL of the countries on the list will need to make real commitments to change if we have any hope of keeping our planet below the +2 degrees C threshold.