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[greenyes] Nations Ranked as Protectors of the Environment
The following is an excerpt from an article below from

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Nations Ranked as Protectors of the Environment

January 24, 2005

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - Countries from Northern and Central
Europe and South America dominated the top spots in the
2005 index of environmental sustainability, which ranks
nations on their success at such tasks as maintaining or
improving air and water quality, maximizing biodiversity
and cooperating with other countries on environmental

Finland, Norway and Uruguay held the top three spots in the
ranking, prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia
Universities. The United States ranked 45th of the 146
countries studied, behind such countries as Japan, Botswana
and the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and most of
Western Europe. 

The lowest-ranking country was North Korea. Among those
near the bottom were Haiti, Taiwan, Iraq and Kuwait. 

The index is the second produced in collaboration with the
World Economic Forum, which meets in Davos, Switzerland,
this week. The first complete index, in 2002, produced
outrage and soul-searching in lower-ranking countries like
Belgium and South Korea, said Daniel C. Esty, the director
of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and an
author of the report. 

The report is based on 75 measures, including the rate at
which children die from respiratory diseases, fertility
rates, water quality, overfishing, emission of
heat-trapping gases and the export of sodium dioxide, a
crucial component of acid rain. 

The report also cited a statistically significant
correlation between high-ranking countries and countries
with open political systems and effective governments. 

After Finland, Norway and Uruguay, the top 10 countries in
the overall rankings were, in order, Sweden, Iceland,
Canada, Switzerland, Guyana, Argentina and Austria. 

Irritation at low rankings in the 2002 index spurred
countries like Mexico and South Korea to improve their
efforts, Mr. Esty added. Young Keun Chung, an environmental
economist with South Korea's state Korea Environment
Institute, agreed, saying: "The first time we were shocked.
Our government wanted to improve our situation. So we
concentrated on improving environmental policy, pollution
problems, traffic problems and everything." 

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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