Environmental Performance Index: South Asia

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Vishwa Mohan, Occupied 141st Slot Just Two Years Ago, January 24, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

Environmental Performance Index ranking, 2018

Poor handling of air pollution abatement and forest protection measures has seen India slip to the 177th position in green rankings in 2018. It was ranked 141st two years ago.

The latest global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) rankings, released on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet in Davos, saw India fall to the bottom five in a list of 180 countries. The report ranks nations on 10 broad categories (issues), including 24 performance indicators, covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality (See graphic).

Air quality (household solid fuels and PM2.5 exposure) remained the leading environmental threat to public health and the report noted that countries such as India, China and Pakistan, which scored badly on this count, “face a public health crisis that demands urgent attention”.

On this front, India’s ‘Ujjwala Yojana’ — meant for LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households — got a special mention in the report. If the goal of the scheme was realised, the report noted, it had the potential to positively impact the lives of millions by providing them with access to safe, affordable cooking technologies and fuels.

The biennial report, brought out by the Yale and Columbia universities in collaboration with the WEF, noted that the low ranking of emerging economies like India and China (120th) reflected the strain population pressure and economic growth imposed on the environment.

The decline in India’s ranking since 2016 can also be attributed to the quality of data and the broadening of the parameter base. The 2016 EPI was based on nine issue categories, including 20 performance indicators.

The good performers:

Switzerland leads the world in protecting the environment and using sustainable practices, followed by France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden. In general, a higher rank shows a country’s longstanding commitment to protecting public health, preserving natural resources, and decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic activity.

The report also cited Brazil (69th), suggesting that a concerted focus on sustainability as a “policy priority” would pay dividends.

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