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U.S. Environmental Performance: Mediocre, Study Says

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI), released every two years, details (rates) how the nations of the world protect natural resources, curb climate change and manage the overall biosphere. One-hundred thirty-two countries were assessed. Switzerland is the strongest performer;
Iraq the worst.

Photo: Environmental Performance Index

Two Ivy League universities have released their latest report on the environmental performance of countries. According to their findings, the United States has a long way to go.

Since 2000, Yale and Columbia universities have collaborated with the World Economic Forum to publish measurements and trend reports on environmental performance by country every two years. The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 132 countries on 22 indicators in 10 categories, including water and water resources; air pollution effects on human health and the larger ecosystem and the environmental burden of disease.

The United States reached an unimpressive 49th overall, landing between Australia (48) and Cuba (50). Two years ago, the U.S. was ranked 61, so there has been improvement. The foremost category keeping the U.S. in the middle of the pack is our 121 ranking out of 132 on curbing climate change. Other low rankings for the U.S. include 100th in ecosystem vitality, which covers agriculture, air impact on ecosystem performance, water issues and biodiversity; the U.S. also placed 104th in water resources.

Authors of the report admit to a sliding scale that makes comparing developed and developing countries difficult. For the first time, trend reports were included, looking at each country's evolution on environmental performance. The report notes some eastern European and Middle East nations are trending negatively in their environmental stewardship.

Read the full report at

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October 17, 2019, 9:16 am PDT

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