Iceland Leads World in Environmental Performance - US in 61st Place Narrowly Beating Venezuela

gullfoss waterfall photo

Gullfloss waterfall, Iceland. Photo: O Palsson via flickr.

A new survey of how well nations are meeting their environmental policy goals has been presented at the World Economic Forum and Iceland comes out on top. Produced by Yale University and Columbia University, the Environmental Performance Index measures 163 countries' performance in ten categories, such as environmental health, natural resource management, biodiversity, agriculture, and climate change. Iceland, which received a score of 93.5 out of 100, earned high marks for environmental public health, controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and reforestation efforts. Rounding out the top five are Switzerland (89.1), Costa Rica (86.4), Sweden (86.0) and Norway (81.1).

US Scores Similarly to Venezuela, Georgia, Sri Lanka
Moving down the list a good deal, and significantly trailing other major industrialized nations such as the UK, Germany and Japan, the United States comes in at 61st. Though scoring highly in forest sustainability and provision of safe drinking water, this is offset by high greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution issues.

For sake of comparison, scoring similarly to the US are (among others) Paraguay, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Poland, Venezuela, Israel, and Thailand.

The report authors note that the score does not represent more recent efforts by the Obama administration, as it only includes data prior to 2009.

BRIC Nations Split
Among newly industrialized nations, Brazil and Russia rank similarly to the United States (62nd and 69th, respectively), while China and India are considerably lower to the bottom, ranking 121st and 123rd.

Impoverished African Nation at Bottom
As one who's seen any development ranking survey might expect, the bottom five nations are all grossly impoverished nations in Africa, counting down: Togo (36.4), Angola (36.3), Mauritania (33.7), Central African Republic (33.3), and Sierra Leone (32.1).

Read more: Environmental Performance Index 2010
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