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Environmentalists say Sweden tops list in climate change efforts

US ranked 53d out of 56 nations

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

The United States -- the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases -- ranked 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. 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 environmental group Germanwatch's calculations took into account emissions levels, emissions trends, and climate policy.

About 25 percent 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. The country with the worst ranking is Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter. Duwe said the kingdom's policies generally block attempts to reduce greenhouse gases.

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 Bush administration's policy focuses on voluntary emissions cuts by industry and development of clean-energy technology.

"The president has made dealing with climate change a priority for this administration (and) will continue to," Tony Snow, White House spokesman, said yesterday .

When asked about the rankings, Kristen A. Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said there are different ways to measure progress.

"The U S has seen one of the smallest increases -- 1.3 percent from 2000-2004 -- in greenhouse gas emissions (of) any major world economy," she said in an e-mailed statement. .

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