Countries Ranked on Environmental Impact in New Study

Many of Earth’s countries have been ranked for their environmental impact in a new study.


Led by the University of Adelaide’s Environmental Institute, the study ranks over 170 countries in terms of their environmental impact measured against their total available resources as well as in terms of their absolute global environmental impact.

The study was led by the Environmental Institute’s Director of Ecological Modelling Professor Corey Bradshaw and will be published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

According to the study, the 10 worse environmental performers according to the proportional environmental impact index are, in order: Singapore, Korea, Qatar, Kuwait, Japan, Thailand, Bahrain, Malaysia, Philippines and the Netherlands.

The proportional environmental impact index is based on the total resources available per country in seven separate metrics: natural forest loss, natural habitat conversion, marine captures, fertilizer use, water pollution, threatened species and carbon emissions. Out of the 228 countries in the dataset, 179 had enough sufficient data for correlation.

The study also listed the worst-ranked countries by absolute environmental impact on the same seven metrics as above. The ten countries with the worst environmental impact are, in order: Brazil, USA, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, India, Russia, Australia and Peru.

“The environmental crises currently gripping the planet are the corollary of excessive human consumption of natural resources,” said Professor Bradshaw. “There is considerable and mounting evidence that elevated degradation and loss of habitats and species are compromising ecosystems that sustain the quality of life for billions of people worldwide.”

“Continued degradation of nature despite decades of warning, coupled with the burgeoning human population (currently estimated at nearly 7 billion and projected to reach 9–10 billion by 2050), suggest that human quality of life could decline substantially in the near future.”

The authors of the report left out measurements of human health and economic data, saying that “the emphasis on the environmental component … is diluted and confounded” when they are introduced.

Included in the study is a surprising lack of evidence to support what is known as the Kuznets curve hypothesis, which states that beyond a certain financial threshold, increased economic wealth equals a reduction in “environmental degradation via cleaner technologies and higher demand for sustainable behaviour from the citizenry.”

“There is a theory that as wealth increases, nations have more access to clean technology and become more environmentally aware so that the environmental impact starts to decline. This wasn’t supported,” said Bradshaw.

Source: University of Adelaide

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