Those who live in cleaner countries tend to have longer life expectancies than those with dirtier surroundings. Clean water, better air quality, better handling of waste, and sanitation are all factors that significantly affect human health. For example, countries with high air quality scores and low exposure to harmful particles like PM2.5 will allow their people to be less susceptible to illnesses associated with air pollution, such as respiratory or cardiovascular disease. Countries with high pollution levels see high rates of non-communicable diseases, accounting for 72% of all deaths, 16% of which are caused by toxic pollution
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks countries from the cleanest to the dirtiest in the world based on two policy objectives: ecosystem vitality and environmental health. The EPI ranks each country on 24 performance indicators across ten categories that cover environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These categories include air quality, water and sanitation, biodiversity and habitat, and sustainability.
The EPI allows countries to see how effective their environmental policies are and how close they are to achieving their environmental goals.
Cleanest Countries in the World
Denmark is the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country. Denmark has some of the world's best policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent climate change. Its EPI score is 82.5, standing out for high air quality scores and the biodiversity and habitat category. Denmark also focuses on sustainability with eco-friendly hotels, solar-powered boats, and organic food.
Luxembourg has made significant progress in reducing the negative impacts on its environment despite its rapid population and GDP growth. Luxembourg's overall score is 82.3, and its scores for biodiversity and habitat and water resources are notably high at 96.54 and 99.76, respectively. Luxembourg is a relatively small nation with less than 600,000 people, allowing the majority of the country to be rural. This allowed forests and nature parks to be plentiful.
Switzerland is the third-cleanest country in the world, with an overall EPI score of 81.5. Switzerland scored exceptionally high for water sanitation, receiving a score of 99.99, and for water resources, receiving a score of 99.67. Switzerland is known for its clean water, thick forests, and abundant wildlife.
4. United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the fourth-cleanest country in the world, receiving an EPI of 81.3. This score is impressive, considering the country's population of 66.52 million. The UK has perfect scores for drinking water, sanitation, and reducing exposure to PM2.5 exposure. The UK also has high scores for both air quality and biodiversity, and habitat.
France has an EPI score of 83.95, making it the fifth-cleanest country in the world. Although France is industrialized, almost 80% of its energy is from nuclear power, significantly reducing its carbon emissions and receiving 96.82 for air pollution. France's environmental initiatives include hydro turbines along its rivers and banning supermarkets from throwing away unused, good food.
With an EPI of 79.6, Austria is the sixth-cleanest country in the world. Austria ranked third overall for agriculture, having stringent regulations for pesticides and fertilizers, and fifth for ecosystem vitality. Austria is known to have some of Europe's strictest air pollution standards, chemicals, and waste management. About two-thirds of Austria is covered in dense forests and meadows.
Finland, the second Nordic country on the list, is the seventh-cleanest. About 35% of Finland's energy comes from renewable energy resources. Finland ranks first for environmental health, scoring 99.35 in the category, as well as ranking high for water and sanitation, air quality, and heavy metals exposure. The country also prioritizes forest and wildlife conservation.
Sweden's EPI score is 78.7. Sweden, also a Nordic country, received a perfect score for addressing the life-threatening impacts of lead exposure. The country is also one of the most sustainable globally known for its low carbon dioxide emissions and the use of renewable energy sources. Sweden is known for increasing its greenery and preserving thousands of acres of forests, as well as being a professional in recycling.
The fourth and final Nordic country on the cleanest countries list is Norway. Norway's EPI is 77.7. It has a perfect score for sanitation and drinking water and an air quality score of 97.9, the fifth-highest globally. Norway's electricity is 97% renewable. By the end of 2020, the government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.
Germany is the tenth-cleanest country and is also the most technologically advanced country. Its EPI score is 77.2, with a perfect score for sanitation and ranking fourth for biodiversity. Germany is heading towards a "renewable energy revolution," increasing its environmental friendliness through 10 green initiatives.