How India Can Improve Its Ranking In Environmental Performance Index

Author: Himanshu Ranjan

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India ranked a dismal 177 out of 180 countries in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index published by Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University. The index has been determined on 24 indicators distributed in ten different categories, as shown in the image below:
10 Issue Categories
Indicators (with their weights in bracket)
Air Quality
PM 2.5 Exceedance (7.8 %)
PM 2.5 Exposure (7.8 %)
Household Solid Fuels (10.4%)
Water and Sanitation
Drinking Water (6 %)
Sanitation (6 %)
Heavy Metals
Lead Exposure (2 %)
Biodiversity and Habitat
Marine Protected Areas (3 %)
Biome Protection – Global (3 %)
Biome Protection – National (3 %)
Species Protection Index (3 %)
Representativeness Index (1.5 %)
Species Habitat (1.5 %)
Forests
Tree Cover Loss (6 %)
Fisheries
Fish Stock Status (3 %)
Regional Marine Trophic Index (3 %)
Climate and Energy
CO2 emissions- Total (9 %)
CO2 emissions- Power (3.6 %)
Methane emissions (3.6 %)
N2O emissions (0.9%)
Black Carbon emissions (0.9 %)
Air Pollution
SO2 emissions (3 %)
NOx emissions (3 %)
Water Resources
Wastewater treatment (6 %)
Agriculture
Sustainable Nitrogen Management
(3 %)
The highlighted eight critical indicators out of the twenty-four indicators alone contribute 59 % of the total weights –

1. PM 2.5 Exceedance (7.8 %)
2. PM 2.5 Exposure (7.8 %)
3. Household Solid Fuels (10.4 %)
4. Drinking Water (6 %)
5. Sanitation (6 %)
6. Tree Cover Loss (6 %)
7. CO2 emissions (9 %)
8. Wastewater Treatment (6 %)

The performance of India has been that of a laggard (bottom ten performers) concerning the categories of Air Quality, Heavy Metals, and Water Resources.

Hence, it is high time that to improve its rankings in the 2019 Environmental Performance Index and subsequent such reports, India must focus on the eight highlighted indicators that alone contribute to nearly 60 % of such rankings.

Hence, there is an urgent need to reduce PM 2.5 Exceedance and Exposure, to reduce the usage of household solid fuels drastically, to improve the quality of drinking water and sanitation, to contain carbon dioxide emissions, to improve tree covers, and invest in wastewater treatment plants. This strategy of working on those indicators which carry higher weights can inevitably lead India to improve its ranking.

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