Switzerland tops environmental index, U.S. lags

Time exposure of the Swiss mountain resort of Grindelwald next to the north face of the Eiger mountain January 10, 2008. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Switzerland ranks first in environmental performance but the world’s largest economy, the United States, lags many industrialized nations, a report drawn up by U.S. university experts said on Wednesday.

Switzerland scored top marks among 149 countries measured in six environmental areas including air pollution, water quality and how they control industrial pollution, according to the 2008 Environmental Performance Index released at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Sweden came second in the ranking, compiled by environmental experts at Yale University and Columbia University, followed by Norway, Finland and Costa Rica.

The United States, dragged down by poor scores on greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of air pollution on ecosystems, placed 39th, far behind other developed states like the United Kingdom in 14th and Japan in 21st.

“The United States’ performance indicates that the next administration must not ignore the ecosystem impacts of environmental as well as agricultural, energy and water management policies,” Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said in a statement.

The U.S ranking -- below Albania, Russia and Panama -- was “a national disgrace,” Speth said.

For full coverage, blogs and TV from Davos, see: here

Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by Michael Winfrey