WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Norway leads and the United States trails on a list of 21 wealthy nations when it comes to environmental policy, according to an annual index by the Washington-based Center for Global Development.
The index looked at such things as global warming gas emissions and low gasoline taxes that encourage consumption when it came to the environment, which is one of seven areas that make up the Commitment to Development Index, or CDI.
The CDI said Norway’s net greenhouse emissions fell during 1995-2005, the last ten years for which data was available, thanks to steady forest expansion, which absorbs carbon dioxide.
Norway is followed by Ireland, which scored high, in part because its economy has grown 6.6 percent a year faster than its greenhouse gas emission.
David Roodman, the architect of the index and a CDG research fellow, said the United States came in last, partly due to its extremely high greenhouses gas emissions per capita, which stand at 21.7 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per person, the third worst after Canada and Australia.
The U.S. also has the lowest gasoline taxes of all 21 countries in the index and loses points for failing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
The U.S. has long been the world’s biggest greenhouse emitter but Washington has rejected mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other green house gases that warm the planet, despite more focus on climate issues.
The index this year extended its environment component to four major emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Roodman said this group scored “remarkably well” and ranked second, fourth, fifth and eleventh when thrown in with the 21 wealthy nations.
“They generally perform well on the greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and tropical timber imports,” the report said.
As a group, however, their major weakness is low gas taxes.