The Union Environment Ministry has said the 2022 Environment Performance Index (EPI) is unscientific and biased in its methodology.
What did the report say?
Ranking 180 countries on the basis of their green performance on those indicators, EPI 2022 put India at 180th position.
On the other hand, the largest historical polluter, the US, has been ranked at 43rd and the biggest current emitter China has been ranked at 160th position.
Denmark, UK, Finland, Malta and Sweden have been ranked at the top five positions due to their better performance.
The report claimed that India prioritised economic growth over environment.
The lowest scores overall go to
countries that are struggling with civil unrest or other crises, including Myanmar and Haiti, or
Nations that have prioritised economic growth over environmental sustainability, such as India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
With markedly poor air quality and quickly rising greenhouse gas emissions, India, for the first time, comes in at the very bottom of country rankings.
Why India rejected the report?
Report based on unfounded assumptions —
As per India, the report used many indicators based on unfounded assumption.
Some of these indicators used for assessing performance are extrapolated and based on surmises and unscientific methods.
Environmental and climate experts also said the methodology does not consider per capita emissions and different socio-economic conditions across countries.
Reasons for change in assignment of weights has not been explained —
As per India, the weight of indicators in which the country was performing well has been reduced.
And reasons for change in assignment of weights has not been explained in the report.
The principle of equity is given very low weightage —
The principle of equity is given very low weightage in the form of the indicators like GHG emission per capita and GHG emission intensity trend.
The common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) principle is also barely reflected in the composition of the index.
India is party to the Paris Agreement and has given a goal of net zero by 2070.
Hence, comparing it to countries with projected 2050 emissions level in 2050 equal to or below zero receiving the maximum score is against the principle of equity as enshrined in CBDR-RC.
Flawed methodology —
To buttress its case, the Environment Ministry pointed to a new indicator in the Climate Policy objective of EPI, Projected GHG Emissions levels in 2050.
This is computed based on average rate of change in emissions of the previous 10 years instead of modelling that takes into account –
a longer time period,
the extent of renewable energy capacity and use,
additional carbon sinks, and
the energy efficiency of respective countries.
Both forests and wetlands of the country are crucial carbon sinks. These have not been factored in while computing the projected GHG emissions trajectory up to 2050 by EPI 2022.
Uncertainty in Copernicus air pollutant concentration —
India said that the Copernicus air pollutant concentration data have higher uncertainty in regions with less extensive monitoring networks and emissions inventories.
This limitation reduces the chance of accurate assessment of air quality in India.
Also, the indicators on water quality, water use efficiency, waste generation per capita which are closely linked to sustainable consumption and production are not included in the Index.
India’s record is impeccable —
India has already achieved the target of 40% of installed electricity capacity from non- fossil fuel-based sources, 9 years in advance of its commitments.
In 2015, as part of its nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement, India had committed to achieving 40% of its installed electricity capacity from non-fossil energy sources by 2030.
Enough room for improvement in the Index —
The index computes the extent of ecosystems but not their condition or productivity.
Efforts must be made to include metrics that truly capture ecosystem productivity such that:
Regulatory, provisioning as well as cultural services provided by various ecosystems like forests, wetlands, croplands are assessed and reflected in performance.
Indicators like Agro biodiversity, soil health, food loss and waste are not included.
Although they are important for developing countries with large agrarian populations.
About the ‘Environment Performance Index’ –
EPI which ranks 180 countries on 40 performance indicators including climate change, environmental public health, biodiversity etc.
The report is prepared by the researchers of –
Yale Centre for Environmental Law &Policy and
Centre for International Earth Science Information Network Earth Institute, Columbia University.
The EPI offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance.
It also provides practical guidance for countries that aspire to move toward a sustainable future.
The 2022 EPI uses 40 performance indicators grouped into 11 issue categories further grouped in three categories —
Based on their performance, it ranks countries on a scale of 0-100 from worst to best performer.