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India among world’s worst five on green performance index

The Environmental Performance Index of 2024 released earlier this month positioned India at 176th spot, which is a marginal improvement from the EPI 2022 that put the world’s most populous country at the bottom (180th position) of the chart.
Last Updated : 16 June 2024, 13:35 IST

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New Delhi: Despite the Union government’s claims on improving the environment, India remains one of the world’s worst five in an environmental performance index consisting of 180 nations prepared by two leading US institutions.

The Environmental Performance Index of 2024 released earlier this month positioned India at 176th spot, which is a marginal improvement from the EPI 2022 that put the world’s most populous country at the bottom (180th position) of the chart.

Prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, the EPI chronicles 180 nations’ performance on multiple green parameters since the turn of the millennium. It documents India’s continuous slide since 2012.

Between 2000 and 2012, India’s position among 180 nations varied between 122 and 127. The southern journey began since 2014 and accelerated in the last eight years. Out of 180 countries, India’s position was at 177 in 2018; 168 in 2020; 180 in 2022 and 176 in 2024.

Scientists who prepared the index, however, noted that India made certain improvements in environmental performances, but its position still remains close to the bottom, possibly due to better performances from other countries.

“The rank depends on the scores of other countries. A country can be making progress and its rank may still fall if other countries are improving faster. That said, India has made progress in several EPI metrics,” Sebastian Block, principal investigator of the 2024 EPI index and a researcher at Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy told DH.

“For example, India improved its score on the indicator measuring fine particulate matter pollution from household solid fuels, as well as on indicators of sanitation and drinking water, acid rain precursors, and climate change.”

The four countries that perform worse than India in the 2024 index are Myanmar, Laos, Pakistan and Vietnam. Estonia leads this year’s rankings with a 40 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions over the last decade, largely attributed to replacing dirty oil shale power plants with cleaner energy sources.

India fared poorly in parameters like ‘ecosystem vitality’; ‘biodiversity and habitat’; ‘species protection index’; ‘terrestrial biome’ and ‘air quality’. But it scores better in some of the areas related to forest conservation despite weakening the forest protection regulations.

“Emissions in the world’s largest economies such as the US (which is ranked 34th) are falling too slowly or still rising — such as in China, Russia, and India, which is ranked 176th,” the Yale University said in a media statement, noting that in many developing countries shortages of funding and personnel make it difficult to enforce rules.

Block said he had several meetings with representatives from the Union Environment Ministry before the release of the 2024 EPI to discuss the planned changes to the methodology, partly in response to their feedback on the indicators in 2022 that put India at the bottom of the table.

Asked to react on the EPI 2024, the ministry officials did not make any comment.

"India faces sustainability challenges on multiple fronts, including poor ambient air quality, unsafe drinking water and sanitation, threats to biodiversity and habitat, and accelerating greenhouse gas emissions," the Yale team said in a June 2022 press statement.

India was accompanied by Myanmar (179th), Viet Nam (178th), Bangladesh (177th), and Pakistan (176th) among the lowest five in 2022 while Denmark topped the list.

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Published 16 June 2024, 13:35 IST

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