2017 was a pretty weird and disappointing year, climate-wise. The biggest news was US President Donald Trump pulling out of the climate agreement. While that incident raised plenty of eyebrows, India has bigger problems.
The latest global Environmental Performance Index(EPI) showcased at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, highlighted the poor performance of India. India ranked 141st out of the 180 participating countries back in 2016, slipped down to a shocking 177th position. The biggest reason for this disappointment can be brought down to the poor handling of air pollution abatement and forest protection measures.
The EPI report takes into consideration 24 performance indicators including ecosystem vitality and environmental health and categorizes them into 10 broad categories(issues). The performance indicators also include air quality, water & sanitation, CO2 emission intensity, fisheries, biodiversity, habitats, agriculture, forest and water waste treatment methods among others.
The main cause of concern and the main reason why countries like India, Pakistan, and China ranked so low was that of the incessant air quality (pollution). The report stressed that the mentioned nations, ‘face public health crisis and demand urgent attention’. Further, “The 2018 EPI confirms that success with regard to sustainable development requires both economic progress that generates the resources to invest in environmental infrastructure and careful management of industrialization and urbanization that can lead to pollution that threatens both public health and ecosystems,” the report said.
India’s Ujjwala Yojana scheme which provides LPG for women from Below Poverty Line households got a special mention in the report which said that if this scheme materializes it has potential to positively impact the lives of millions of BPL households by providing them with access to safe, affordable cooking technologies and fuels.
Switzerland topped the list, followed by France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden. The bottom 5 is occupied by Nepal, India, Congo, Bangladesh, and Burundi, respectively. The other big boys viz., USA ranked 27th, Russia ranked 52nd, Brazil ranked 69th, and China ranked 120th. Coming to the ranking air quality-wise, countries like Australia, Barbados, Denmark, Canada, and Jordan had the best air quality while India, China, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh figured among the worst.
It is also to be noted that since the last time, the parameters included in the ranking system have been broadened which can be the cause of several declines for some countries. The data for the EPI has been obtained from international organizations like UN Food, World Bank, several research institutes, government resources and several techniques.
Multiple reasons like civil unrest, population boost, poor governance, ignorance towards the environment preservation can be cited for the ever-degrading condition of nature. The reports also highlighted some of the positive results but stressed on the imperative of completing the target set in the ambitious Paris Climate Treaty.
“As the EPI project has highlighted for two decades, better data collection, reporting, and verification across a range of environmental issues are urgently needed,” said Zach Wendling, principal investigator of the 2018 EPI, in a statement.
“The world needs better data on sustainable agriculture, water resources, waste management, and threats to biodiversity. Supporting global data systems is one of the most important steps the world community can take to achieving sustainable development goals.”