India has been ranked lowest among 180 countries in the 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) produced by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities. The ranking is based on 40 performance indicators, including climate change, environmental public health, and ecosystem vitality.

The index shows that southern Asian countries, such as India, Nepal, and Pakistan, are particularly lagging in air quality. India, with markedly poor air quality and quickly rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, comes in at the very bottom of the country rankings for the first time.

Vietnam (178 rank), Bangladesh (177), Pakistan (176), and India (180) have been ranked the lowest based on their prioritising economic growth over environmental sustainability. Countries such as Myanmar (179) and Haiti (173), which are facing civil unrest, have also ranked low in the chart.

The neighbouring China, which also faces issues related to poor air quality and growing greenhouse gas emissions, continue to impact China’s EPI ranking, placing the nation 160th out of 180 countries on the 2022 scorecard. GHGs continue to rise in China (160), India, Russia (112), and several other major developing countries, despite the international commitment to reduce the emission, shows the analysis.

Denmark has earned the number one ranking, while the world's biggest economy, the United States, ranks low (43) among wealthy democracies. Denmark is followed by the UK, Finland, Malta and Sweden. The index shows global progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions remains insufficient to meet the net-zero GHGs by 2050, a target set in the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact.

Using the past 10-years’ emissions trajectory as a basis for projecting 2050 emissions, the EPI researchers forecast that the vast majority of countries will not achieve the net-zero goal. "A number of nations — including the United States — are projected to fall far short of the target," adds the report.

Prof. Dan Esty, who directs the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy that has produced the EPI, says: “Major countries have much more work to do than they may have realised if the world is to avoid the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.”

The researchers think only a handful of nations including the UK and Denmark are projected to reach GHG neutrality by 2050. Such nations have enacted some of the world’s most ambitious climate policies. For example, Denmark has set a national target of reducing 2030 emissions by 70% compared to the 1990 level and has adopted a comprehensive policy agenda to deliver on this commitment, including recently expanded GHG taxes.

More than 50% of emissions in 2050 are slated to come from just 4 countries -- China, India, the United States, and Russia, shows the analysis.

“While the U.S. emissions are declining rapidly, they are not falling fast enough to get to net-zero by 2050 given the very high emissions starting point of the United States,” says EPI project director Martin Wolf.

By 2050, just 24 countries — the dirty two-dozen — will account for nearly 80% of 2050 residual GHG emissions unless climate change policies are strengthened and emissions trajectories shifted.

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