During the World Environment Forum last week a group of researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities released the biennial Environmental Performance Index, an index of the environmental performance of countries based on nine key performance indicators. Canada achieved 24th place, behind the United Kingdom (12th), Portugal (17th), Ireland (19th), Italy (22nd), and Greece (23rd). Canada was ahead of Japan (26th), France (27th) and the USA (33rd). The full list of rankings and details on the structure of the EPI are at http://epi.yale.edu/epi/country-rankings. Canada’s overall score has increased by 2.58% over the last 10 years. When looking at overall 10 year performance improvement Canada is in 110th place. All positions are out of 178, the number of countries included in the survey.
In the current report, Canada scored:
- 1st in environmental health impacts, with a perfect score of 100
- 20th in water resources, with a score of 80.42
- 28th in air quality, with a score of 97.85
- 28th in water and sanitation, with a score of 95.9
- 41st in climate and energy, with a score of 59.85
- 71st in fisheries, with a score of 21.54
- 97th in biodiversity and habitat, with a score of 58.4
- 104th in forests, with a score of 16.64
- 105th in agriculture, with a score of 62.52
The research team provides detailed information on each of the indicators, the sub-indicators, and each countries ranking on each. For example, the agricultural environment indicator is based on agricultural subsidies and pesticide regulation. Canada ranks poorly on subsidies and is in the top group on pesticide regulation.
GallonDaily is not an enthusiast for this kind of environmental performance ranking, whether of companies, communities or governments. Environmental effects are way too complex to have meaningful impact when reduced to a single ranking. For example, the environmental health index in the EPI is based on a single indicator, young child mortality, the probability of death between a child’s first and fifth birthdays. As stated above, Canada has been given a perfect score on this indicator but the indicator does not take into account such problems as premature death of older people that might be caused by a wide range of environmental factors. However, indices like the EPI can provide a limited amount of useful information and might sometimes motivate an organization to improve its environmental performance.
Also worth noting:
- in 2001, Canada was ranked in 3rd place in the world
- in 2002, Canada was ranked in 4th place in the world
- in 2005, Canada was ranked in 6th place in the world
- in 2006, Canada was ranked in 8th place in the world
- in 2008, Canada was ranked in 12th place in the world
- in 2010, Canada was ranked in 46th place in the world
- in 2012, Canada was ranked in 37th place in the world
A more complete analysis of Canada’s positioning in the Environmental Performance Index will appear in a future edition of Gallon Environment Letter.