Air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI).
The EPI is a biennial report produced by researchers at Yale and Columbia. 2018 marks the 10th report since the EPI’s beginnings 20 years ago.
EPI researchers work with global datasets from different international research projects and companies like the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
The goal of the EPI is to rate environmental risks, ecosystem vitality risks such as biodiversity and deforestation, governing policies, and gross national income to see how countries prioritize sustainability and public health.
2018’s EPI ranks 180 countries across 10 issue categories using 24 performance indicators, and the results show how important environmental concerns and climate change have become on a global scale.
More and more countries are working towards reducing emissions and improving public health and quality of life, but the EPI found that income and governance were two of the biggest drivers of change and environmental policies.
Some of the countries at the top of the EPI’s list include Switzerland, France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden, all of whom lead the world in sustainability and have strong policies in place for climate protection and air quality.
The countries that rank higher show more commitment to air quality, sanitation, and public health, and reducing emissions while protecting important natural resources.
India ranks as one of the lowest countries on the list, not only because of poor air quality and the risk of pollution to public health, but also because of the lack of national sustainability as a priority.
The United States ranks 27th on the EPI, behind other industrialized nations like France, Canada, and Germany who have made their stance on climate change, sustainability, and environmental issues clear.
The EPI shows how environmental risks to public health like air quality have shaped global policies and which countries are committed to reducing and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
“As the world community pursues new sustainable development goals, policymakers need to know who is leading and who is lagging on energy and environmental challenges,” said Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer