EU countries top Yale environmental scorecard

Seven EU countries feature in the top 10 of Yale University’s 2006 Environmental Performance Index, which tracks indicators such as air quality and sustainable energy. Sound policy choices emerge as a critical factor.

Business and political leaders meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos will be presented today (26 January 2006) with a study by Yale University assessing the environmental performance of 133 countries

Yale’s 2006 Environmental Performance Index measures a set of sixteen indicators tracked in six policy categories: Environmental Health, Air Quality, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources and Sustainable Energy.

New Zealand heads the list, followed by six EU countries (Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, UK, Austria, Denmark), Canada, Malaysia and Ireland. In total, seven EU countries feature in the top ten. The lowest-ranked countries are all poor African nations (Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Niger), suggesting that a country’s wealth is “a significant determinant of environmental performance”, according to the authors.

But beyond wealth, the study also identifies policy choices as a pivotal factor. “At every level of development, some countries achieve environmental results that far exceed their peers, demonstrating that policy choices also affect performance,” the academics say. They point out that Sweden, for instance, which came second, “produces much better environmental results than Belgium” (39th). 

“Good governance emerges as a critical driver of environmental performance,” comments Daniel C. Esty, Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

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