From climate change and ocean acidification, to the hole in the ozone layer, modern environmental problems are global in character. This not only means that all the world’s countries must work together to solve them, but also that each country’s contributions set an example to the others.
Several criteria are assessed in these rankings. They include:
The Human Development Index (HDI)
Uses mean education level, per capita income and average life expectancy to determine each country’s level of socioeconomic development.
The Happy Planet Index (HPI)
By considering reports of wellbeing, life expectancy, inequality and per capita ecological footprint, this index assesses how effectively each country guarantees all of its citizens’ high quality of life, without harming the planet.
Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Per Capita (GGE)
This tool divides the number of metric tons of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and other greenhouse gases each country emits by that country’s population. In this way, it determines how much each country is contributing to one of the most serious environmental problems of our generation.
New Solar Capacity Installed (NSC)
This lists how many megawatts of new solar power each country installs per million people. It thus provides a proxy for that country’s investment in renewable energy.
A country that does well on all of these factors is able to give its citizens a high standard of living without placing a burden on the environment. The better we can identify and emulate such countries, the easier it will be for all humanity to achieve swift, sustainable development.