New Delhi: India scored the lowest in the 2022 Environment Performance Index (EPI), an analysis by Yale and Columbia University researchers that provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world. The EPI which ranks 180 countries on 40 performance indicators including climate change, environmental public health, biodiversity etc ranked India at 180th because of its poor policies and implementation on various environmental fronts.
The EPI 2022 which was released on May 31 has Denmark holding the top rank emerging as the most sustainable country in the 2022 rankings, because of its strong performance across many sectors particularly climate and sustainable agriculture. Other high-scoring nations include the United Kingdom and Finland, both of which earn top rankings from their strong climate change performance driven by policies that have substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, the EPI said.
United States is lagging behind its peers of wealthy nations. It ranked 43 out of 180 countries in the index. “This ranking reflects the rollback of environmental protections during the Trump Administration, which repealed or weakened nearly 100 environmental regulations, withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, and weakened fuel efficiency standards.The aggregate ranking puts the United States behind most wealthy western democracies, including France (12th), Germany (13th), Australia (17th), Italy (23rd), and Japan (25th),” the EPI said in a statement. EPI has projected that United States will be among the four largest greenhouse gas emitters in 2050, alongside China, India, and Russia. More than 50% of emissions in 2050 are slated to come from China, India, the United States, and Russia, according to the countries’ projected trajectories based on data from 2010 through 2019.
Very few countries including the United Kingdom and Denmark, are on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050, according to EPI projections. These countries have enacted some of the world’s most ambitious climate change policies. For example, Denmark has set a national target of reducing 2030 emissions by 70% compared with the 1990 level and has recently expanded greenhouse gas taxes.India has prioritised economic growth over environmental sustainability, the EPI team said based on their analysis of the 40 parameters. “The lowest scores overall go to countries that are struggling 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 markedly poor air quality and quickly rising greenhouse gas emissions, India, for the first time, comes in at the very bottom of country rankings. Poor air quality and rising GHG emissions continue to impact China’s EPI ranking, with the nation placing 160th out of 180 countries on the 2022 scorecard,” a statement by EPI said.
Urbanisation and industrialization in these and other countries continue to emit dangerous levels of air pollution, presenting a challenge to policymakers as they aim to develop sustainability plans for cities, the report said. India had ranked 168 in the EPI 2020 and 177 in EPI 2018 but EPI FAQs say results from different years cannot be compared as parameters assessed have changed.“Major countries have much more work to do than they may have realized if the world is to avoid the potentially devastating impacts of climate change,” said Daniel Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy and director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy that produces EPI.
The EPI score seems to be contradictory to the announcements made by the Centre. For example, PM Modi on Sunday on the occasion of World Environment Day said India has achieved the target of 10% ethanol blending in petrol, 5 months ahead of schedule. In 2014, ethanol blending was only 1.5%. There are three clear benefits of achieving this goal, he explained. This has led to a reduction of 27 lakh tonnes of carbon emissions and that increasing ethanol blending has also saved foreign exchange worth ₹41,000 crore. India has also managed to achieve 40% of installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources, 9 years ahead of schedule. In 2015, as part of its nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement, India had committed to achieving 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 join the movement to address climate crisis by following sustainable lifestyles focused on reduce, reuse and recycle.