U.S. near bottom in pollution index

NAIROBI, Kenya - Sweden, Britain and Denmark are doing the most to protect against climate change, but their efforts are not nearly enough, according to a report released Monday by environmental groups.

The United States - the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases - ranked at 53, with only China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia doing worse.

"We don't have any winners, we only have countries that are better compared to others," said Matthias Duwe of the Climate Action Network-Europe, which released the data at the U.N. climate conference. "We don't have big shining stars."

The index ranks 56 countries that were part of a 1992 climate treaty or that contribute at least 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The countries make up 90 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

The calculations by the environmental group Germanwatch took into account emissions levels, emissions trends and climate policy.

About one-quarter of the energy consumed in Sweden in 2003 came from renewable sources - more than four times as much as the European Union average of 6 percent. In Stockholm, one-quarter of city buses run on ethanol or biogas.

The nation with the worst ranking was Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter. Duwe said the kingdom's policies block attempts to reduce greenhouse gases.

"If you try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you will also reduce oil consumption," Duwe said. "So Saudi oil will be in less demand."

Christoph Bals, political director of Germanwatch, said policy had an enormous effect on the rankings. The United States could move up 30 spots if its policies were akin to Britain's, he said.

The United States and Australia are the only major industrialized countries to reject the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which calls for mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases.

The Bush administration's policy on climate change focuses on voluntary emissions cuts by industry and long-term development of clean-energy technology. In rejecting the Kyoto Protocol's mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions, President Bush claimed they would hamstring the U.S. economy.