ENVIRONMENT. Copenhagen calls itself Climate Capital of the World, and Denmark may be seen as an environmental leader. But in a newly released global environmental index, Denmark falls far behind its Nordic counterparts.
In the Environmental Performance Index, compiled biannually by Yale and Columbia Universities in the U.S., Denmark finishes in a meagre 32nd place. Fellow Nordic countries fare much better, with Iceland in first place, Sweden fourth, Norway fifth and Finland is number twelve.
“When it comes to emissions of greenhouse gases, you are not as much of a leading country as the Danes themselves might think when they look out the window and sees people putting waste in recycling bins or riding their bicycles to work. The blame can be put on the way you use and produce energy”, says Christine Kim, a researcher at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy to Danish daily Politiken.
Denmark still uses fossil fuels – oil, coal, natural gas – for most of its energy production. Even though Denmark and perhaps Copenhagen in particular has high ambitions, there is still a long way to go.
“We must retrofit our houses and invest more in public transportation and renewable energy. In the past few years CO2-emissions have been allowed to grow and grow”, says Christian Ege, head of The Ecological Council, a Danish NGO promoting sustainable patterns of development, to Politiken.
The Environmental Performance Index ranks 163 countries on their performance in ten categories, from environmental health and air quality to fisheries and agriculture.
Both the United States and China drops in the new ranking, to 61st and 121st place, respectively.
“Countries that take seriously the environment as a policy do improve, and those who don’t deteriorate”, says Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center to the New York Times.