New Report Ranks Nations’ Environmental Performance, Reveals Trends
Air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) released January 23 at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The biennial report, which ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across 10 issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality, was produced by the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy (YCELP) and CIESIN. Switzerland is ranked first in environmental performance, followed by France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden. In 2016, France and Sweden also made the top five.
In spite of strong scores on sanitation and air quality, the United States places only 27th in the 2018 EPI, thanks to weak performance on deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, among other issues. This puts the United States near the back of the industrialized nations, behind France (2nd), the United Kingdom (6th), Germany (13th), Japan (20th), and Canada (25th).
Of the large emerging economies, China and India rank 120th and 177th respectively, due to pressures on the environment from high population densities and rapid economic expansion. “The strain on resources from past and current population growth, and the challenges of raising two billion people out of poverty, has meant that these countries face particular challenges,” according to co-author Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications at CIESIN. “From nitrogen pollution, inadequate waste water treatment, air pollutant emissions and concentrations, China and India face severe environmental challenges.”
In addition to rankings, the EPI identifies important environmental trends. For example, the report finds that fisheries continue to deteriorate in most countries, and air pollution—a problem largely “solved” in advanced developed countries—is still a critical problem in many developing countries, especially in India, China, and Pakistan. And some countries are failing to address critical problems. Deforestation, for example, has been a significant issue for Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia for the past five years, reflecting broad policy failures, according to the report.
2018 Environmental Performance Index
State of the Planet blog: “Global Environment Report Card Sees Dirty Air, Failing Fisheries”