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How Do the BRICs Stack Up? Adding Brazil, Russia, India, and China to the Environment Component of the Commitment to Development Index - Working Paper 128

10/10/07
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The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) ranks 21 of the world's richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit the five billion people living in poorer nations. Moving beyond simple comparisons of foreign aid, the CDI ranks countries on seven themes: quantity and quality of foreign aid, openness to developing-country exports, policies that influence investment, migration policies, stewardship of the global environment, security policies and support for creation and dissemination of new technologies.

This year for the first time, CGD research fellow David Roodman extended the environment component of the Index to cover four of the biggest developing countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China, a group Goldman Sachs dubbed the "BRICs." This working paper explores the indicators that make up the environment component (global climate, sustainable fisheries, and biodiversity and global ecosystems) and explains how the BRIC countries stack up to their right-country counterparts.

He finds that the BRICs score remarkably well compared to the 21 rich countries covered by the Index: when thrown in with the usual 21, they rank second, fourth, fifth, and eleventh. They generally perform well on the greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and tropical timber imports. And the BRICs have joined important international environmental accords. As a group, their major weakness is low gas taxes. In addition, Amazon deforestation and heavy fossil fuel use pull Brazil and Russia, respectively, below the CDI 21 average on greenhouse emissions per capita. China's abstention from the U.N. fisheries agreement puts it a half point below the other BRICs.