The World Economic Forum’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2022 has been released. Read here to know about it.
The 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) released on World Environment Day has ranked India last (180th).
Environmental performance index
The Environment Performance Index (EPI) is an international ranking system that measures the environmental health and sustainability of countries.
The EPI, a biennial index, was started in 2002 as Environmental Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum.
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is published by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University.
It is a method of quantifying and numerically marking the environmental performance of a state’s policies.
The 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world.
Using 40 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, the EPI ranks 180 countries on climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality.
These indicators provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy targets.
The EPI offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance and provides practical guidance for countries that aspire to move toward a sustainable future.
The EPI offers a powerful policy tool in support of efforts to meet the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to move society toward a sustainable future.
Significance of Environmental performance index (EPI)
The overall Environmental Performance Index rankings indicate which countries are best addressing the environmental challenges that every nation faces.
It provides a way to spot problems, set targets, track trends, understands outcomes, and identify best policy practices.
Data and fact-based analysis can also help government officials refine their policy agendas, facilitate communications with key stakeholders, and maximize the return on environmental investments.
The 2022 EPI supports evolving climate policy discussions with a new indicator that projects countries’ progress towards net-zero emissions in 2050.
Environmental Performance Index 2022
The top five countries are Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, Malta, and Sweden.
India ranked the lowest among 180 countries, after Vietnam (178), Bangladesh (177), and Pakistan (176).
With an overall score of 18.9, India ranks at the bottom of all countries in the 2022 EPI with low scores across a range of critical issues.
- Deteriorating air quality and rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions are urgent challenges according to the report.
Most low-scoring countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam are those that have prioritized economic growth over sustainability, or those that are struggling with civil unrest and other crises.
China and India are projected to be the largest and second-largest emitters of greenhouse gases in 2050, despite recently promising to curb emission growth rates.
India has also scored low on rule of law, control of corruption, and government effectiveness, according to EPI.
India was ranked 168th in Environmental Performance Index-2020, with a score of 27.6.
Opposition by India
The Environment Ministry has opposed the use of a new indicator in the climate policy objective is ‘projected GHG emissions levels in 2050’.
- This is computed based on the average rate of change in emission of the last 10 years instead of modeling that takes into account a longer period, the extent of renewable energy capacity and use, additional carbon sinks, energy efficiency, etc. of respective countries.
- Forests and wetlands of the country are crucial carbon sinks but have not been factored in while computing the projected GHG emissions trajectory up to 2050 given by EPI 2022.
- Historical data on the lowest emission trajectory has been ignored in the computation.
- The index computes the extent of ecosystems but not their condition or productivity. It did not include indicators like agro biodiversity, soil health, food loss, and waste even though they are important for developing countries with large agrarian populations.
- The weight of the indicators in which India performed well has been reduced and the reasons for such change have not been explained in the report.
The Environmental Performance Index rankings indicate that:
- Good policy results are associated with wealth (GDP per capita), meaning that economic prosperity makes it possible for nations to invest in policies and programs that lead to desirable outcomes.
- The pursuit of economic prosperity – manifested in industrialization and urbanization – often means more pollution and other strains on ecosystem vitality, especially in the developing world, where air and water emissions remain significant.
- High scorers exhibit long-standing policies and programs to protect public health, preserve natural resources, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Four new air quality indicators that track exposure to sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organics have been identified.
New metrics that gauge recycling and ocean plastic pollution have been added to the Waste Management issue category, tracking countries’ efforts to attain closed-loop economies.
In recognition of the critical role of agriculture in promoting healthy societies, the 2022 EPI also includes a pilot indicator on sustainable pesticide use.
The EPI has been facing criticisms over the years for its arbitrary choice of metrics which could introduce bias and its poor performance as an indicator of environmental sustainability.
The EPI’s lack of specific policy suggestions and the index’s weighting biases against data deficient countries that have led to the overlooking of ecological progress in developing countries has also been pointed out.
India, even if not satisfied with the report should look into the areas where the actions are still lacking to achieve the environmental target set for the future.