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Iceland Tops Rankings in Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy’s 2010 Environmental Performance Index

Iceland leads the world in addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges, according to the 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The EPI, produced by environmental experts at Yale and Columbia University, will be released January 28 at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. First released in 2006, the index measures the environmental performance of various countries based on established targets. Its goal is to improve policymaking and environmental decisionmaking.

Following Iceland at number one were Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, and Norway, which ranked two through five, respectively. Togo, Angola, Mauritania, Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone scored lowest in the index.

The United States placed 61st, with strong results on some issues, such as provision of safe drinking water and forest sustainability, and weak performance on other issues including greenhouse gas emissions and several aspects of local air pollution. This ranking puts the United States significantly behind other industrialized nations like the United Kingdom (14th), Germany (17th), and Japan (20th).

A total of 163 countries were ranked on their performance across 25 metrics aggregated into ten categories, including: environmental health, air quality, water resource management, biodiversity and habitat, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and climate change. For each issue, the EPI score is based on a country’s proximity to specified policy targets.

“At the Copenhagen Climate Conference last month, reliable environmental performance data emerged as fundamental to global-scale policy cooperation,” said Daniel C. Esty ’86, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale. “The 2010 EPI shows the potential for a much more analytically rigorous approach to environmental decisionmaking, but substantial investments in indicators that are systematically tracked and transparently displayed will be needed.”

The Environmental Performance Index was developed by the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, a joint initiative of Yale Law School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

The full text of the 2010 EPI report, including country profiles and the summary for policymakers, will be available at http://epi.yale.edu.