European countries and some Latin American nations topped an environmental scorecard released Jan. 23 in Davos, way ahead of the U.S. States and emerging economies like China and India. The scorecard ranked 149 countries according to their success in meeting broadly-accepted targets in such policy categories as environmental health, air pollution and water resources. Switzerland, host of the annual World Economic Forum gathering, led the list of top environmental performers compiled by experts at Yale and Columbia Universities.
Three northern European countries -- Sweden, Norway and Finland -- came next, followed by Costa Rica. Another Latin American state, Colombia, was ranked ninth -- just ahead of France.
While acknowledging that wealth was a major determinant, the study highlighted the disparity in ranking between Costa Rica (5th) and neighboring Nicaragua (77th) as a demonstration that "policy choices also affect performance."
It also stressed the lowly ranking of the U.S., which wound up in 39th place, significantly behind other industrialized countries like Britain (14th) and Japan (21st). "Poor scores on air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions dragged down the overall U.S. rank," it said.
The environmental cost of soaring economic growth in Asian giants China and India were reflected in their lowly rankings. China placed 105th with Indian even further back in 120th position.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008