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The environment component of the CDI compares rich countries on policies that affect shared global resources such as the atmosphere and oceans. Rich countries use these resources disproportionately while poor ones are less equipped to adapt to the consequences, such as climate change. Countries do well if their greenhouse gas emissions are low and falling, if their gas taxes are high, if they do not subsidize the fishing industry, and if they control imports of illegally cut tropical timber.

Europe's Environment Policies

Europe’s top performers on the Environment


No fishing subsidies; and GDP growth exceeded growth in greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade


Excellent compliance with mandatory reporting requirements under multilateral environmental agreements relating to biodiversity; and highest gas taxes in the CDI ($1.54 per litre)


Lowest fossil fuel production per capita in the CDI


High gas taxes ($1.40 per litre)

Europe’s lowest performers on the Environment


Highest fossil fuel production per capita in the CDI (109.9 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent)


High greenhouse gas emissions per capita (23.7 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent)


Low gas taxes ($0.58 per litre)


High fishing subsidies ($5.04 per person)

Until the inclusion of the Visegrad 4 in the CDI in 2012, the leading performers in Europe have been Nordic countries, particularly Finland and Sweden. In 2012, Slovakia and Hungary have displaced the traditionally environment-friendly Nordic countries to secure top spots in the rankings, thanks to their policies which are protective of fisheries and discourage fossil fuel consumption. The exception to the generally positive performance of Nordic countries is Norway, which is penalized for its high per capita production of oil and gas.

For more on environment, explore the climate change topic, related publications, and experts.

Read the Europe Beyond Aid Working Paper.


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