In January of this year, Yale University presented their latest Environmental Performance Index (EPI) Report naming Finland the greenest country in the world. We take a look at the report and its key findings.
What is the EPI?
The EPI builds on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formally adopted in September 2015. The main objective of the report is to assess and rank how 180 countries protect their ecosystems and human health, while in the process naming the greenest country in the world.
“The EPI Data ranks countries’ performance on high-priority environmental issues in two areas: protection of human health and protection of ecosystems.”
– EPI Report
The ranking covers nine categories: agriculture, air quality, biodiversity and habitat, climate and energy, forests, fisheries, health impacts, water resources, and water and sanitation. To calculate a country’s performance, the EPI draws on 20 key indicators to create an overall score out of 100, with 100 being the best score and 0 the worst. The greenest country in the world was Finland, scoring 90.68.
In addition to the overall country rankings, the EPI provides an overview of global environmental performance and identifies the following nine key trends:
1. More deaths globally occur due to poor air quality than water.
2. More than 3.5 billion people – half of the world’s population – live in nations with unsafe air quality.
3. The number of people lacking access to clean water has been cut nearly in half from 960 million in 2000 to 550 million today; around 8% of the world’s population. Around 2.4 billion people lack access to sanitation.
4. Around 34% of global fish stocks are over-exploited or collapsed.
5. Around 4% of terrestrial habitats and 8.4% of marine habitats in 2014 were protected.
6. An area of 52 million km2 of tree cover was lost in 2014 – roughly twice the size of Peru.
7. Almost a quarter of countries (23%) have no wastewater treatment.
8. Only 20% of countries are meeting targets for Nitrogen Use Efficiency.
9. Around one-third of countries scored on Climate and Energy are reducing their carbon intensity.
A global problem
The world is making progress and addressing some environmental issues (access to drinking water and sanitation) but global air quality exhibits a troubling decline. The interactive map below shows concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) across the whole world, along with visual representations of the world’s dirtiest power plants and major cities. A larger map can be viewed here.
Nearly all countries have shown an overall EPI improvement over the last decade, since the last assessment. Countries already at higher levels of performance such as North America and Europe have not improved nearly as much as developing countries in the same period.
At the same time, there is a clear correlation between unstable governance and poor EPI performance. The index’s bottom third comprises predominantly African and South- and East-Asian states whose problems extend beyond their inability to sustain environmental and human health. It is clear that only functioning governments are able to manage their environments for the benefit of their populations.
The greenest country in the world
Finland’s position as the greenest country in the world is a consequence of its continued commitment to achieving a carbon-neutral society. The country’s government is devoted to not exceeding “nature’s carrying capacity” by 2050.
Finland has a legally binding goal of consuming 38% of its final energy from renewable sources by 2020. It already produces nearly two-thirds of its electricity from renewable or nuclear power sources.
The country stands as an example to the rest of the world.
|26||United States of America||84.72|
|62||Trinidad and Tobago||74.34|
|121||Bosnia and Herzegovina||63.28|
|122||Antigua & Barbuda||62.55|
|154||Sao Tome & Principe||48.28|
|156||Papua New Guinea||48.02|
|159||Central African Republic||46.46|
|171||Dem. Rep. Congo||42.05|
Download the full Environmental Performance Index (EPI) Report.
This article originally appeared on Atlas & Boots — Travel with Abandon and is republished here with permission.