Environmental Performance Index (EPI)
- June 20, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Environmental Performance Index (EPI)
- The latest Environmental Performance Index (EPI) placing India last among all 180 assessed countries.
Environment Performance Index:
- The EPI, a biennial index, was started in 2002 as Environmental Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network.
- Using 40 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, EPI ranks 180 countries on climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy targets.
- With a paltry score of 18.9, India’s 180th ranking comes after Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar — the bottom five together make up the poorest performing countries for environmental health.
- India has also scored low on rule of law, control of corruption and government effectiveness, according to EPI.
Issues with EPI
- The assessment has become controversial for prioritizing the flow of greenhouse gases from countries while reducing the emphasis on the stock of carbon dioxide from industrialized countries that is warming the globe.
- Evidently, if countries were assigned a penalty for the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere, rather than measure their mitigation actions over a decade, India would fare much better.
- Less controversially, the EPI dwells on performance on air quality, waste management and ecological conservation measures.
- The EPI ranking and scores have been rejected by the Union Government as based on “unfounded assumptions”, “surmises” and “unscientific methods.”
- India is under pressure to raise its ambition and commitment towards the more ambitious 1.5° Centigrade goal for temperature rise under the Paris Agreement, going beyond the less rigorous target of well below 2°C.
- Within the overall climate score, India does better in sub-metrics such as growth rates for black carbon, methane and ﬂuorinated gases, and greenhouse gas emissions based on their intensity and per capita volumes.
- The Index rates the country low on projected green house gas (GHG) emissions for mid-century, a target for Net Zero emissions.
- The EPI report estimates that China, India, the United States, and Russia are expected to account for over 50% of global residual greenhouse gas emissions.
Claims and low PARI score
- The country has protested that the new India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021 was not factored in as part of the biodiversity metric.
- On the face of it, India scores abysmally low on some of the Ecosystem Vitality variables, such as Marine Protected Areas (0.3 of a possible 100) and Protected Areas Representativeness Index, or PARI (0.5), Terrestrial Biome Protection (TBM) – National (1.2) and TBM – Global (2.1). Wetland loss prevention is among the best scores for India, at 62.
- Given the many biomes that exist in the country, the low PARI score puts pressure on the Government to defend its claim that the EPI scores for biodiversity health are faulty due to weaknesses in collecting species and habitat data.
Biome protection, air quality:
- Although the scores and rank could be contested, there is little doubt that India’s air is widely seen as among the foulest.
- Data for 2019, when economic activity was unfettered by COVID-19, attribute 1.67 million deaths during the year from air pollution.
- This has been reiterated by recent literature with commentary in The Lancet Planetary Health pointing out that “India has developed instruments and regulatory powers to mitigate pollution sources but there is no centralized system to drive pollution control efforts and achieve substantial improvements.
- In 93% of India, the amount of pollution remains well above WHO [World Health Organization] guidelines.”
- The national case would be stronger if policies on luxury urban emissions are aimed at helping poorer Indians.
- On transport (about 13% of emissions), prevailing high fuel and vehicular taxes could exclusively drive change and raise a green commons such as clean public transport, cycling and pedestrianization.
- The national policy of achieving Net Zero emissions by 2070 provides a longer timeline for a coal phaseout, but other areas can benefit from policies that prevent a carbon lock-in effect.
- Emissions from buildings, including embedded carbon in construction materials such as cement and steel, provide scope for reduction.
- What India needs to adopt is a rigorous dashboard approach to indicators, assigning high weight to the environment, modelled on the proposal made by Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Jean-Paul Fitoussi in their exploration of development beyond GDP.
- This can generate good data, identify the real beneficiaries of policies, avoid serious environmental deficits and ensure inter-generational equity in the use of natural resources. It can also curb pollution. Distorted rankings from external assessments would matter little.