5 Worst And Best Countries For The Environment Ranked By Ecological Footprint

By Juliana Rose Pignatoro via IBT


While many countries have made concerted efforts in recent years to reduce their carbon footprint in an attempt to slow global warming, most are still consuming far more than the earth can support and thereby creating an ecological footprint that isn’t sustainable. A country’s ecological footprint is measured by how much biologically productive area it needs to adequately cover its resource consumption. Using data gathered from data.world and the Global Footprint Network, Priceonomics analyzed which countries are decimating the environment and which are keeping their intake to a minimum.

Unsurprisingly, the countries that demand most from the environment are those that are home to the greatest number of people. China ranked as number one, with the greatest ecological footprint out of all other countries. The United States came in second, with roughly half the footprint of China. India ranked third, while the Russian Federation was fourth and Japan was fifth. Also in the top ten were Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, France and the United Kingdom.

Likewise, countries with the smallest populations had much smaller ecological footprints. The country with the most minimal ecological footprint in the world was Montserrat, followed by Nauru, Wallis and Futuna Islands, Cook Islands and the British Virgin Islands, respectively.

When it came to footprints per person, the list looked markedly different. When controlling for population, the country with the largest ecological footprint was Luxembourg, where people consume more than their land can support at a rate 10 times that of the world average. Qatar came in second, Australia ranked third, in fourth was Trinidad and Tobago and fifth was Canada. The country with the smallest ecological footprint, when controlling for population, was Eritrea, followed by Haiti, Burundi, Pakistan and Timor-Leste.

Looking exclusively at the world’s 50 largest economies, Canada ranked as the most environmentally responsible, while South Korea was the least environmentally responsible.

“As it turns out, having a large economy is a very good predictor you’ll be consuming more of the environment than you replace,” the analysis said. “As countries look to grow, the trend of environmental destruction will likely continue unless these countries take action to change course.”