New Delhi: India was the worst performer in the 2022 Environment Performance Index (EPI), an analysis by researchers from Yale and Columbia University that provides a data-backed summary of the state of sustainability around the world. The EPI, which ranks 180 countries across 40 performance indicators such as climate change, environmental public health, biodiversity, etc., ranked India 180th for its poor policies and implementation on various environmental fronts.
The EPI 2022, released on May 31st, ranks Denmark as the most sustainable country in the 2022 rankings due to its strong performance in many sectors, particularly climate and sustainable agriculture. Other high-scoring nations include the United Kingdom and Finland, both of which top the rankings for their strong performance on climate change, driven by policies that have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, according to the EPI.
The United States is lagging behind its peers from wealthy nations. It ranked 43rd out of 180 countries in the index. “This ranking reflects the environmental rollback during the Trump administration, which repealed or weakened nearly 100 environmental regulations, withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, and weakened fuel efficiency standards.
The overall ranking puts the United States behind most prosperous Western democracies, including France (12th), Germany (13th), Australia (17th), Italy (23rd) and Japan (25th),” the EPI said in a statement Explanation. EPI has projected that by 2050 the United States will be among the top four emitters of greenhouse gases, along with China, India and Russia. More than 50% of emissions in 2050 are projected to come from China, India, the United States and Russia, according to the countries’ projected trajectories based on data from 2010 to 2019.
According to EPI projections, very few countries, including the UK and Denmark, are on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. These countries have enacted some of the most ambitious climate protection measures in the world. For example, Denmark has set a national target of reducing emissions by 70% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and has recently expanded greenhouse gas taxes.
India has prioritized economic growth over environmental sustainability, the EPI team said based on its analysis of the 40 parameters. “The lowest overall scores go to countries grappling with civil unrest or other crises, including Myanmar and Haiti, or nations that have prioritized economic growth over environmental sustainability, such as India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan. With extremely poor air quality and rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions, India is at the bottom of the country ranking for the first time. Poor air quality and rising greenhouse gas emissions continue to impact China’s EPI ranking, with the nation ranked 160th out of 180 countries on the 2022 scorecard,” EPI said in a statement.
Urbanization and industrialization in these and other countries continue to create dangerous levels of air pollution and pose a challenge to policymakers in developing city sustainability plans, the report says. India was ranked 168th in the EPI 2020 and 177th in the EPI 2018, but EPI FAQs state that results from different years cannot be compared as the parameters assessed have changed.
“Big countries have a lot more work to do than they might realize if the world is to avoid the potentially devastating effects of climate change,” said Daniel Esty, Hillhouse professor of environmental law and policy and director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy , which produces EPI.
The EPI score appears to be at odds with the center’s announcements. For example, on World Environment Day on Sunday, PM Modi said India had reached the target of 10 percent ethanol blending in gasoline, 5 months ahead of schedule. In 2014, the ethanol blend was only 1.5%. There are three clear benefits to achieving this goal, he explained. This has resulted in a 27 lakh tonne reduction in CO2 emissions and increasing ethanol blending has also saved foreign exchange €41,000 crores. India has also managed to get 40% of installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuel sources, 9 years ahead of schedule. In 2015, as part of its Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, India committed to sourcing 40% of its installed electricity capacity from non-fossil energy sources by 2030.
He launched a global movement titled Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) on Sunday and called on all countries to join the movement to address the climate crisis by following a sustainable lifestyle focused on reduce, reuse and recycling focused.