About Environmental Performance Index(EPI)?
- The EPI is an international ranking system of countries based on their environmental health.
- It is a biennial index, first started in 2002 as the Environment Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University Center for International Earth Information Network.
Why in news?
- Recently, the Union environment ministry rebutted the Environmental Performance Index 2022, which ranked India at the bottom of a list of 180 countries, saying some of the indicators it used are “extrapolated and based on surmises and unscientific methods”.
- EPI 2022 uses 40 performance indicators across 11 categories to assess and rank 180 countries to judge countries on climate change performance, environmental health and ecosystem vitality.
- The 2022 EPI has included new parameters to its earlier assessments, with projections of progress towards net-zero emissions in 2050, as well as new air quality indicators, and sustainable pesticide use.
How poor is EPI assessment of India?
- With a rank of 180 and a score of 18.9, India has fallen from rank 168 and a score of 27.6 in 2020.
- India comes after Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar, the poorest performers.Denmark tops the list with a score of 77.9.
- India ranks close to the bottom on a number of indicators including ecosystem vitality (178th), biodiversity (179th), biodiversity habitat index (170th), species protection index (175th), wetland loss, air quality (179th), PM 2.5 (174th), heavy metals such as lead in water (174th), waste management (151st) and climate policy (165th) including projected greenhouse gas emissions (171st).
- India has also scored low on rule of law, control of corruption and government effectiveness.
Key Takeaways from the report
- India’s GHG trends
- According to the report, deteriorating air quality and rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions are the primary reasons behind India’s low score, and need urgent attention.
- Current trends and EPI projections suggest that China, India, the U.S., and Russia will account for over 50% of residual global greenhouse gas emissions in 2050.
- Greenhouse gases (GHG) include carbon dioxide, methane, fluorinated gases, and nitrous oxide. To project GHG emission levels in 2050, the study calculates the average rate of increase or decrease in emissions over ten years (2010 – 2019) and extrapolates this trend till 2050.
- India rejected the calculation methodology, saying that for a developing country like India, the accurate method would be to calculate GHG emissions per capita.
- The crucial carbon sinks that mitigate GHG, such as forests and wetlands, have not been taken into account.
- India also emphasized that a model should be created with coefficients taking into account the effect of policies to reduce emissions such as increased use of renewable energy and electric vehicles or the creation of a carbon sink to project the values for future years.
- Fossil Fuel and Air Quality Challenges
- According to the report, India is home to 21 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world and has an air quality rated one of the poorest in the world and over 16 lakh people in India die from air pollution every year.
- It also identifies household fuel combustion as the largest contributor to the country’s particulate matter emissions.
- According to EPI, air quality is a direct measure of the impact of air pollution on human health. Seven indicators — PM2.5 exposure, household solid fuels, ozone exposure, nitrogen oxides exposure, sulphur dioxide exposure, carbon monoxide exposure, and volatile organic compound exposure are used to determine the air quality in the listed countries.
- Plastic waste generation
- India and Indonesia have been identified as the top two generators of marine plastic waste in the world, while China has managed to decrease its ocean plastic pollution.
- Ocean plastic pollution is measured as an absolute quantity of the amount of plastic released by a country into the ocean annually.
- Indonesia, India, the U.S, Brazil and Thailand are the top five producers of ocean plastic pollution and are responsible for 43 per cent of the global total.
- India generates around 13% of ocean plastic each year. The annual plastic generation in India has been rising, but it is important to note that India has announced a ban on single-use plastic, scheduled to be in effect from July 1.
- Protection of Biomes
- In an analysis of countries protecting the world’s biomes, India emerged at the bottom in five out of 14 sub-categories – the most for a single nation.
- India objects that the index emphasizes the extent of Protected Areas rather than the quality of protection. Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Protected Areas and eco-sensitive regions is not factored into the computation of biodiversity indices.
- The index computes the extent of ecosystems but not their condition or productivity. It did not include indicators like agro biodiversity, soil health, food loss and waste even though they are important for developing countries with large agrarian populations.