Germanwatch’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of the 56 countries that are responsible for 90 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Saudi Arabia retained its last place finish from last year in the rankings, but the United States fell two places to second bottom.
The report had sharp criticism for Australia, which slid to 54th in the list from 47th last year.
Germanwatch said Australia had “more and more deviated from the necessary reduction targets as stated in the UN Framework for Convention on Climate Change” under former prime minister John Howard’s 11 years in charge.
It expressed hope for an improvement under his successor Kevin Rudd, who ratified the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gases in one of his first acts in office this week.
As last year, Sweden is the country doing most to protect the climate, followed by Germany which on Wednesday unveiled a package of laws and regulations to help it meet its target of a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020.
Germany displaced Britain, which slipped to seventh. Iceland ranked third. However, Germanwatch said that even high-ranking countries could not sit back and relax.
“The results illustrate that even if all countries engaged in the same manner, current efforts would still be insufficient to prevent dangerous climate change.”
The report was published as 190 nations meet on the Indonesian island of Bali to create a framework for a post-2012 treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.