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Denmark is once again ranked the world’s most sustainable

Denmark and sustainability go hand in hand. For the second year in a row, Denmark earns the top spot in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). EPI is a global sustainability ranking by Yale and Columbia University.

Scientists across the world have provided new evidence and understanding of the environmental challenges faced at global, national, and local levels. They have documented how the build-up of emissions — including air pollution, effluent flows into waterways, mismanaged waste, chemical releases, and greenhouse gas emissions — harms human health and ecosystems.

The 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) offers a data-rich sustainability scorecard that translates cutting-edge scientific findings into policy insights. Using 40 performance indicators, the EPI ranks 180 countries on their national efforts to protect environmental health, enhance ecosystem vitality, and mitigate climate change. These indicators measure how close countries are to meeting internationally established sustainability targets for specific environmental issues.


Learn more about Denmark's 14 Climate Partnerships

Building on the Danish tradition for public-private partnerships and recognising the private sector as a central actor, the Danish government has formed 14 climate partnerships. Each represents the different sectors in the Danish economy.

For the second year in a row, Denmark earns the top spot.

Ranked at the top on climate and overall, Denmark has introduced a binding Climate Act with the national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% below 1990 levels by 2030. Today, about two-thirds of Danish electricity comes from clean sources, and the city of Copenhagen aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital in the next three years. On top, Denmark has decided to end oil and gas exploration in the North Sea by 2050 while introducing 14 Climate Partnerships with the private sector to find ways that individual sectors can contribute to CO2e reductions in a just way, supporting Danish competitiveness, exports, jobs, welfare, and prosperity.

“This is such a comprehensive transformation of our entire society that there’s not one tool that you can use, one policy you can use overall, and then that will just solve the problem,” said Dan Jorgensen, the Danish Climate Minister to New York Times. Denmark showed “it is possible to make this transformation in a way that doesn’t hurt your societies,” the minister added.

Related news: Denmark earns the top spot in global sustainability index

The 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

EPI Sustainability Index - Denmark sustainability

Leaders and Laggards

High-scoring countries exhibit longstanding and continuing investments in policies that protect environmental health, preserve biodiversity and habitat, conserve natural resources, and decouple greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth. Denmark tops the 2022 rankings — an achievement rooted in strong performance across nearly all issues tracked by the EPI, with notable leadership in efforts to promote a clean energy future and sustainable agriculture. The United Kingdom and Finland place 2nd and 3rd, both earning high scores for slashing greenhouse gas emissions in recent years.

Lagging its peers, the United States places 20th out of 22 wealthy democracies in the Global West and 43rd overall. This relatively low ranking reflects the rollback of environmental protections during the Trump Administration. In particular, its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and weakened methane emissions rules meant the United States lost precious time to mitigate climate change while many of its peers in the developed world enacted policies to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Innovations in the EPI methodology continue to shed light on new environmental issues and identify worrying trends — especially as data coverage improves in the developing world. Based on the latest scientific insights and environmental data, India ranks at the bottom of all countries in the 2022 EPI, with low scores across a range of critical issues. Deteriorating air quality and rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions pose especially urgent challenges.

Above sections are a snippet from the “Summary for Policymakers“.

About the EPI

The 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world. Using 40 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, the 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. The EPI offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance and provides practical guidance for countries that aspire to move toward a sustainable future.

Read more about indicators and the overall ranking here.

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