CAT rating methodology

Overview

The CAT’s rating method evaluates a broad spectrum of government targets and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement temperature limit.

For each country, we develop:

  • The overall rating: the combination of all the ratings generates an overall rating for the country
  • Rating the policies and action: are governments putting in place real policies and action in line with global least-cost mitigation pathways or fair share principles?
  • Rating the “domestic target” or the “internationally supported target”: are government promises for targets in their country ambitious with respect to global least-cost mitigation pathways, acknowledging that most developing countries will need support to achieve this level?
  • Rating the “fair share target”: is a country doing its fair share? We assess whether government promises for action in their country with their own resources and, if relevant, the financing of action abroad represent a fair contribution to global efforts.
  • Climate finance: for those countries where relevant, we assess whether governments are providing sufficient support for mitigation actions in other countries.

The CAT also evaluates a government’s net zero targets where possible, and flags whether greenhouse gas emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry have a high impact on overall emissions.

Governments should commit to reducing their own emissions and follow through on those commitments by implementing policies that reduce emissions to meet those targets. These actions in a country can be assessed against what is technically and economically feasible, usually a globally cost-efficient perspective.

However, for many countries, what is feasible either falls short of what would be expected of them based on principles of fairness, or is beyond what is possible with domestic resources alone. Fair share principles mean that developed country governments need to support developing countries in achieving the global mitigation goals.

Our new assessment framework therefore combines both fair share and cost-efficient mitigation perspectives to assess the different components of government targets and actions.

With this framework we identify whether:

  • Government promises for targets and action in its country are ambitious with respect to global least-cost mitigation pathways, acknowledging that most developing countries will need support to achieve this level
  • Government promises for action in its country with its own resources and, if relevant, the financing of action abroad represent a fair contribution to global efforts
  • Developed country governments are providing sufficient support to developing countries OR developing countries are making plans to use support provided by developed countries
  • Governments are putting in place real policies and action in line with global least-cost mitigation pathways or fair share principles and are on track to meeting their promises

CAT uses five rating categories for its overall rating and the different elements:

  • The “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible” rating indicates that a country’s climate policies and commitments are consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.
  • The “Almost sufficient” rating indicates that a country’s climate policies and commitments are not yet consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit but could be with moderate improvements.
  • The “Insufficient” rating indicates that a country’s climate policies and commitments need substantial improvements to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.
  • The “Highly insufficient” rating indicates that a country’s climate policies and commitments are not consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. For many countries in this category, policies and commitments lead to rising, rather than falling, emissions.
  • The “Critically Insufficient” rating indicates that a country’s climate policies and commitments reflect minimal to no action and are not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement.

For the individual rating of targets and action against modelled domestic pathways and the fair share contribution, the categories can be associated with estimates for global warming:

If all countries followed the rated country’s approach, warming could be held below—but not well below—2°C for the “Almost sufficient” category. For the “Insufficient” category, the range is 2°C to 3°C, for the “Highly Insufficient” 3°C to 4°C, and for “Critically insufficient” above 4°C. Given that the overall rating is an aggregate of different elements, we do not provide a warming range for it.

The CAT focuses its rating on mitigation efforts but recognises that adaptation, and support for adaptation and loss and damage are also vital in meeting the Paris Agreement.

What we rate against

Actions in a country can be assessed against what is technically and economically feasible, usually a globally cost-efficient perspective. However, for many countries, what is feasible either falls short of what would be expected of them based on principles of fairness, or is beyond what is possible with domestic resources alone. Fair share principles mean that countries need to support each other, and developed countries take the lead, in achieving the global mitigation goals.

The CAT uses two key concepts as the basis for our evaluation of country efforts: fairness, and necessary emissions reductions to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C temperature limit. Climate change mitigation finance is the link between the two, balancing a country’s fair share and the emissions reduction effort that is feasible in its national territory.

What we rate

A country’s climate change mitigation action has many components; different types of targets and policies put in place. The CAT rating covers the following elements:

Policies and action

Policies and action refer to what is actually happening in a country to reduce emissions – what emissions levels do we expect if all current policies are fully implemented. Policies and actions are important because they tell us:

  • If a government is following through on its promises
  • Where emissions are actually heading
  • If a country is already achieving its promises and could strengthen them further

Emissions reduction targets (domestic and conditional/unconditional)

Targets illustrate the level of ambition for mitigation set by governments in for reducing their greenhouse gases. Countries can put forward “domestic targets” and internationally supported targets. Domestic targets are emissions reductions they want to achieve with own means on their own territory, often referred to as “unconditional targets”. Internationally supported targets are for emissions reductions through support from other governments, and often referred to as “conditional targets”.

An additional variation is a target that the country wants to achieve partially internationally, meaning through emissions reductions outside its territory.

Net zero targets signal a government’s intent on full decarbonisation by around mid-century, where the decarbonisation year will differ by country. We provide an assessment of the comprehensiveness and transparency of a government’s net zero targets as part of its complete climate action efforts. However, the net zero target does not count toward the overall CAT rating as it is near-term efforts that will be decisive in meeting the long-term goals.

Climate finance

Climate finance is a centrepiece of the Paris Agreement. A government whose fair share obligations are difficult, or even impossible, to meet on its own territory is expected to meet its fair share internationally through funding and supporting emission reductions in other countries through direct financial resources. We include here only the direct financial transfers; the implied transfers accounted against the reduction target are already covered under the fair share target.

We assess four aspects of climate mitigation finance provided:

  • Absolute contributions – how much finance has a government provided in relation to its fair share obligations?
  • Contribution trends – are the government’s contributions increasing over time?
  • Future commitments – has the government committed to providing (more) finance in the future?
  • Overseas fossil fuel finance – has the government stopped investing in overseas fossil fuel projects?

Read more about our methods for rating climate finance and see detailed results here.

As noted above, the CAT rating system evaluates finance mitigation actions only. It is essential that governments also provide adequate climate finance for adaptation and loss and damage, but we do not currently have a methodology for assessing that.

Land use and forestry

The CAT doesn’t include land use and forestry in its main rating assessment. Emissions and removals from forestry are of very different nature, they are very volatile from one year to the next and the removals during biomass growth can be reversed into emissions through human activity, natural factors, and increasingly through the effects of climate change on forests and soil carbon via more extreme and frequent heat waves, drought and wildfire.

We consider it is more important to make clear what’s happening with emissions from fossil fuels and industry rather than mixing targets with sinks through land use and forestry. Find more explanation on why we don’t include land and forest emissions here.

However, reducing emissions from deforestation or land degradation is also important and, in some countries, land use and forestry are a major contributor to overall emissions. We flag countries whose land use and forestry emissions – or sinks – play a big role or might impact reaching their NDC.

We hope to provide a more detailed assessment of land use policies and targets in the future.

How we rate and come to an “Overall” rating

All aspects of climate mitigation action are important – targets, policies, climate finance. We rate them separately and then combine these components into a single “overall” rating.

Some principles used for defining the final rating are:

  • Both policies and targets are important – governments must do well on both to get a good rating.
  • Both the fair-share and global least cost pathways representing decarbonisation perspectives are important – governments should do well in both spaces to provide their fair contribution.

We use the fair share and the modelled domestic pathways frameworks to rate the different elements of climate action. In all cases we rate targets and policies, but we rate them slightly differently depending on whether – and how much – support a country is likely to need from others to reach full decarbonisation.

A government’s current policies are rated against what we expect that country to do within its borders with its own resources. Most developing countries need support to advance their current policies and so we rate their current policies according to fair-share contributions. Most developed countries can reduce emissions without support from the international community and we rate those countries against what’s needed under modelled domestic pathways.

Country targets are rated as a package – we combine the two target ratings (domestic or internationally supported target and the fair share target) by averaging. For countries with a climate finance rating, we first combine the fair share target rating and climate finance rating – a good climate finance rating can help to improve the fair share target rating.

What countries want to achieve on their own territory, some with the support of others, we evaluate against our 1.5 modelled domestic pathways. Depending on whether a country needs support to fully decarbonise, we perform this evaluation slightly differently.

Domestic targets: For countries that should be supporting others, or can do it alone, we evaluate the domestic part – what it will do on their own territory - of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), submitted under the Paris Agreement.

Internationally supported targets: For countries that could expect to receive support to fully decarbonise, we evaluate the conditional NDC; what a government plans to do if it receives international support. Countries that do not have a conditional NDC are rated using their unconditional NDC and are encouraged to develop a conditional NDC, outlining the support they need.

“Fair share target”: Here we evaluate a government’s international target - what it has promised to do with its own resources within its own territory or outside – against our fair share pathways.

To get the overall rating, we combine these policies and targets ratings by averaging. Where a country falls between two categories, we take the poorer rating because countries need to be acting on all fronts to fully meet their climate contributions and get a good rating.

Finally, some countries have particular circumstances that we also take into account, such as not specifying an unconditional target. These considerations are explained or highlighted on the country page when relevant.

Stay informed

Subscribe to our newsletter