As creators of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), we are often asked if the EPI has measurable impacts on environmental decision-making. The short answer is yes; from promoting re-evaluation of air pollution policy in South Korea to inspiring the creation of seafood sustainability indicators in North America, the EPI has tangible influences on environmental actions throughout the world. MORE
At the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June 2012, the Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia, His Excellency Edmunds Sprūdžs, announced that his country had been ranked as a top performer in the 2012 Environmental Performance Index. He connected Latvia’s performance on the Index to its recent developmental goals and reiterated the country’s commitment to “an environmentally sound, sustainable policy and growth.”
Beijing’s air quality once again is making international headlines for off-the-chart measurements of air pollution. Images of Beijing show China’s capital city completely shrouded in gloomy shades of grey. According to Jan. 12 readings of the city’s official real-time air quality monitoring platform, air pollution levels exceeded the upper limit of 500 on the Air Quality Index (click here to read an explanation of China’s newly adopted AQI) in many of Beijing’s districts, meaning that air pollution was beyond “hazardous” levels. The US Embassy in Beijing, which has been independently monitoring air pollution since the 2008 Olympics, independently measured and reported AQI values topping 755 . MORE
Last year the citizens of the Republic of South Africa were preparing their hotels and conference centers for another wave of foreigners to descend upon their shores. This year the revelers of 2010’s World Cup competitions were replaced by the more stoic diplomats of a world climate negotiation (specifically the 17th Congress of the Parties to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change). Despite the change in dress (business suits over track suits) the results of the proceedings were similar: much fanfare, some victory, a good deal of disappointment. MORE
Pesky particles: Should we include natural sources of small particulate matter in enviro indicators?
In our cities the byproducts of combustion (in our engines and power plants) meet with the byproducts of life - plant resin off-gases, air-born dusts and sands, ocean sprays and sea salt mists - to create a complex mixture of chemicals that can be harmful to human health. As Gabriel Isaacman and I reported in the Atlantic last month, even so-called pristine landscapes are not free from this effect.
And that begs the question: what are we to make of natural sources of air pollutants? This was a question posed during the first day of the International Workshop for a Better EPI: Towards a Next Generation of Air Quality Monitoring, held last week at Seoul National University in Korea. MORE
Pollution does not respect borders.
This old adage is one of the first messages to arise from last week’s International Workshop for a Better Environmental Performance Index (EPI): Towards a Next Generation of Air Quality Monitoring – a workshop jointly hosted by Yale and Columbia Universities and the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability at the Seoul National University in Korea.
During a technical session on monitoring and modeling of heavy metals, Dr. Seung-Muk Yi of Seoul National University presented his research findings on the sources and movement of mercury in the Korean environment. His findings were stark. MORE
At the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy we are concerned with the state of our planet. We consider ways that national and international governance of our world can be improved to better humanity’s lot - and the lot of the species that coexist (somewhat shakily) with us on this tottering orb. MORE
Direct Blinds, an internet window blinds company based in the United Kingdom, has taken data from the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) to create an interactive map of world energy ratings. The map asks, “Is clean energy as important to the U.K. as it is to its peers across the globe?” To answer this question, the UK compared itself to nations falling into three categories: the 19 single country members of the G-20, the top ten countries in renewable energy production, and the top ten countries with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt hour (kWh). The “World Energy Rating” map was developed using data from the 2012 EPI related to renewable energy and carbon dioxide emissions, the CIA World Factbook, and Google World Bank. MORE
Costa Rica is well known for its conservation efforts and consistently ranks high on the EPI, with a No. 5 ranking out of 132 countries in the latest 2012 EPI. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Senior Policy Adviser and Vice President of the Center for Conservation and Governments at Conservation International, shares his reflections of the value and use of the EPI while he was serving as Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy.
Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Former Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica MORE
Rio+20 rejects notion of ‘planetary boundaries,’ but are there consequences for the Environmental Performance Index?
In the September 2009 edition of Nature, Rockstöm and colleagues proposed a range of essential Earth-system processes and their biophysical thresholds, or ‘planetary boundaries’, that, if exceeded, could lead to catastrophic environmental changes. Earlier this year, the planetary boundaries concept was accepted into the ‘Zero Draft’ of the Rio+20 conference as an essential element in negotiations toward setting environmentally related goals. However, following heavy scientific criticism, the concept was excluded from the Summit’s final statement in June.