Clean and Green Countries of the World

Published on 11 June 2022

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) released this year has ranked 180 countries on 40 performance indicators for tackling environmental challenges at global, national and local levels.  The report takes into account air pollution, water pollution, waste management, chemical releases and greenhouse gas emissions and their harmful impacts on human health and ecosystem.  The most urgent threats are poor air quality and rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The three policy objectives and their 11 categories include:

  1. Environmental Health
    • Air Quality
    • Waste Management
    • Water & Sanitation
    • Heavy Metals
  2. Climate
    • Climate Change Mitigation
  3. Ecosystem Vitality
    • Biodiversity & Habitat
    • Ecosystem Services
    • Fisheries
    • Agriculture
    • Acid Rain
    • Water Resources

The top 10 high-scoring countries are Denmark, United Kingdom, Finland, Malta, Sweden, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and Iceland.  Out of 22 wealthy democracies in the Global West, the United States secures 20thposition and 43rd overall.  Japan is at 25, China 160, and India stands at 180.  As of 2022, the top three most populous countries in the world are China, India and United States.  “EPI projections indicate that just 4 countries — China, India, the United States, and Russia — will account for over 50% of residual global greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 if current trends hold. A total of 24 countries — the “dirty two-dozen” — will be responsible for nearly 80% of 2050 emissions unless climate policies are strengthened and emissions trajectories change.”

Top 10 Economies of the World

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) provides a snapshot of the economy of a country, its expenditures, production or incomes during a specific period.  GDP PPP or Purchasing Power Parity is a measure of both the economic growth and living standards of a country.

A carbon dioxide equivalent, abbreviated as CO2eq is defined as a metric measurement used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases on the basis of their global warming potential (GWP) by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential. It measures the environmental impact of one gigatonne or billion tonnes (gt) of these greenhouse gases.

Listed below are the top 10 economies of the world, their GDP (PPP) and emission trajectories, both annual and per capita (per person).

RankingCountries GDP (PPP)
trillion $US
GDP Per Capita $US Annual Emissions gtCO2eqPer Capita Emission

The Climate Equity Monitor was developed by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru, and independent researchers. It provides information on global emissions, energy and resource consumptions. It is a platform for equity in climate action. The Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore set up a global coalition known as Climate Trace to independently track greenhouse gas emissions in real-time using satellite imagery, remote sensing and artificial intelligence. The table data are collected from both of these sources.

Resource Consumption of Top 10 Countries:

Natural Gas

Sustainable Development Report (2022)

This report grades the performance of 163 countries on their progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Overall, East and South Asia have progressed on the SDGs more than any other region since their adoption in 2015.

Source: Sustainable Development Report 2022

Spillover Scores

The actions taken by each country can have positive or negative impacts on the ability of other countries to achieve SDGs.  The Spillover index assesses the following:

  • Environmental and social impacts embodied into trade
  • Economy and finance
  • Security

A higher spillover score means a country causes more positive and fewer negative spillover effects.  International spillover effects are said to occur when one country’s actions generate benefits or impose costs on another country that are not reflected in market prices and therefore are not ‘internalized’ by the actions of consumers and producers (Sachs et al., 2017).  According to the report, both positive and negative spillovers (or externalities) must be understood, measured and managed carefully, so that the negative externalities of some countries do not counteract the efforts of other countries to achieve SDGs.

Spillover Performance of Top 10 Countries:

RankingCountriesSpillover Score (100)Spillover Rank (163)

High Income Countries (HICs) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries generate significant negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts outside their borders (spillovers) through trade and consumption, hampering other countries’ efforts to achieve the SDGs.

Historically, these countries are also responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  In fact, HICs are responsible for more than 80% of cumulative imported CO2 emissions over the period 2010-2018.

Source: Sustainable Development Report (2022)
High Income Countries (HICs) Upper Middle Income Countries (UMICs) Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs), Low Income Countries (LICs)

Hence, the rich countries must address their negative international spillovers, especially their unsustainable supply chains and consumption, and bear a special responsibility to take actions at the national and international levels.

Also, no country in the world is on track to achieve all 17 SDGs.

Further Reading

Environmental Performance Index 2022

Sustainable Development Report 2022

Do you know all 17 SDGs?

Climate Equity Monitor

Climate Trace

The World Bank

Visualizing the Coming Shift in Global Economic Power (2006-2036p)

The Rich World’s Climate Hypocrisy (20 June 2022): “Rather than selfishly block other countries’ path to development, wealthy nations should do the sensible thing and invest meaningfully in the innovation needed to make green energy more efficient and cheaper than fossil fuels. That’s how you can actually get everyone to switch to renewable alternatives. Insisting that the world’s poor live without plentiful, reliable and affordable energy prioritizes virtue signaling over people’s lives.”

Scientists warn deal to save biodiversity is in jeopardy (30 June 2022): “Conservation groups say that a lack of political leadership has bogged down negotiations.”

Less hypocrisy and more investment: how COP27 can support African-led clean energy development (26 August 2022): “High-income countries can hardly expect African countries to forgo the use of their own natural resources without investment of $70bn a year to meet their renewable energy needs.

Last updated on 9 September 2022

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