The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index, published at UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, ranks Ireland 49th out of 56 countries, a drop of 28 places from last year.

The report has been used for the past 13 years to track countries’ efforts in combating climate change, and is issued by Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and the Climate Action Network, with the help of 300 energy and climate experts from around the globe.

The report said no country had taken sufficient action to prevent dangerous climate change, and so the top three spots are unfilled. Sweden is fourth, followed by Lithuania, Morocco, Norway and the UK.

Ireland is ranked 49th, or “very low” in terms of taking action. The worst-performing countries are Saudi Arabia, at the bottom of the list, followed by Iran, the Republic of Korea, Australia and the US. It says that Ireland is the worst performing European country in the index.

“According to national experts, Ireland is one of the few EU countries to miss its 2020 emission reduction targets under the EU effort-sharing decision, which is one reason why the country rates very low in climate policy,” it said.

“Its performance in the field of greenhouse gas emissions is also very low,” it added, and is “nowhere close” to helping keep average global temperature rises below 2C, as required under the Paris Climate Accord.

“We observe a very positive trend in the development of renewable energy, but as the current share of renewable energy in energy supply – as well as the 2030 targets – are insufficient, Ireland rates only medium in the renewables category,” it said.

Head of science and communications at Friends of the Earth Ireland Dr Cara Augustenborg said the report came after the Citizens’ Assembly put forward 13 recommendations for Ireland to take action and catch up with our EU neighbours to end “nearly a decade of dithering and delay”.

“Yet at national level, we’ve seen a new climate action plan which does not guarantee any immediate reductions in pollution. And at EU level, we’ve seen repeated Government efforts to have loopholes inserted into EU legislation currently under negotiation which would hinder greater climate action,” she said.

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition said the report “laid bare” the “continuing and disturbing contradiction” between Government rhetoric and the “sad reality” of policy implementation. Emissions were rising, the State was failing to meet its targets and was not supporting greater ambition at EU level, it added.