Scoring well in the health impacts and water sanitation categories yet poorly in the air pollution, agriculture and biodiversity segments, Israel placed 39 out of 178 countries in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, released at the World Economic Forum on Saturday.
Looking at several categories under the umbrellas of human health protection and ecosystem preservation, Environmental Performance Index aims to measure how close countries meet internationally established targets or how they compare to the range of observed countries in the absence of such targets, according to the report.
The index is published biennially by the Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.
Israel earned a score of 65.78 out of 100, improving 0.7 percent over the past decade.
Switzerland claimed first place, followed by Luxembourg, Australia, Singapore, and the Czech Republic. Somalia landed last place.
Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry is currently studying the results of the index. A closer evaluation of the specific indicators contributing to Israel’s overall score indicate excellent performance in certain areas and sub-par performance in others.
In the three categories – child mortality rates, water and sanitation and air quality – Israel wavered between highly positive and highly negative performance.
The country excelled the most in the drinking water and water sanitation category, achieving first place and scoring 100 out of 100, but tied for that top rank with 20 other countries.
In the child mortality ranking, Israel placed 27 out of the 178 countries, earning a score of 98.13%, with a 5.46% improvement in the past decade.
On this issue, 22 countries – all EU states, except for Macedonia, Canada, Singapore, Australia and Brunei Darussalam – were tied for first place, earning 100 out of a 100. Aside from the first place countries, ahead of Israel were only Belgium, Japan, Poland and Montenegro.
Including the child mortality measures was important to calculating overall environmental performance because factors like polluted air and water are major causes of deaths of children between one and fiveyears- old, the authors said.
Acknowledging that pinpointing precise reasons for child mortality is difficult, the authors stressed that diarrheal diseases, lower-respiratory tract infections and many other preventable diseases are highly linked to environmental contamination.
Israel fared much worse in the air pollution category, falling in 91st place and achieving a score of 79.57 out of 100, representing a 5.64% decline in the past decade.
Although in the household air quality sub-category, Israel ranked 36 out of 100, the country did poorly in two categories related to fine particulate matter, PM2.5. Israel ranked 141 regarding average exposure to PM2.5.
In addition to evaluating countries based on environmental health, the Environmental Performance Index looked at the healthiness of ecosystems through domestic wastewater treatment, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and climate. In these various sectors, Israel achieved one high score, but mostly mediocre and low ones.
Israel ranked 11 out of the 178 countries in terms of household wastewater treatment, achieving a score of 88.4 out of 100. This category examined the proportion of wastewater treated for households connected to the sewerage system.
All of the countries ahead of Israel in this sector were EU nations, except first-place Singapore and Australia.
Although Israel scored 0 out of 100 in the fisheries category, the country maintained a mediocre placement of 98, because the entire world fared badly in this sector. Only 2% of countries met the target for coastal shelf fishing pressure – the intensity of trawlers operating on the continental shelf – and 0% of the countries met the target for fish catches.
Israel also achieved a mediocre ranking of 92 in the climate and energy category, scoring 41.86 out of 100.
Within this category, Israel earned 100 out of 100 regarding population access to electricity, and 61.48 out of 100 in its trend of carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt-hour – showing significant improvement in emissions over the past decade.
While Israel did show a decrease in its trend of carbon intensity over the past decade, the country only scored 31.85 out of 100 in this category in comparison to other nations.
The index did not examine change in forest cover for Israel, as the authors only evaluated areas covered more than 50% by trees.
While the country placed only 124 out of the 178 countries in the biodiversity sector, its score of 39.34 out of 100 indicated a 5.3% improvement in the past decade.
Israel performed the worst in the agriculture category, placing 172 out of the 178 countries and earning a score of only 14.66 out of 100. This score, however, represented a 23.92% rise over the past decade, according to the index.
Taking a closer look at the sub-categories contributing to this score shows that Israel earned a score of 25.32 out of 100 for environmental pressures incurred from agricultural subsidies and just 4 out of 100 in pesticide regulation.
In the aftermath of compiling the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, co-creator of the project Kim Samuel stressed that she hopes the availability of such data will prompt increased cooperation on environmental issues among all sectors, across the world.