India Ranks Low at 176/180 Countries on the Environment Performance Index 2024

India’s concerningly low ranking on the Environment Performance Index 2024, has sparked debates and forced the country to speed-up its actions towards long-term sustainability. Widely regarded as the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases and ranking low at 176/180 in the EPI 2024, amongst the lowest echelons in air quality, projected emissions, and biodiversity & habitat, India’s efforts towards hitting its net-zero emissions target by 2070 will require conscious and consistent efforts not only by government policies, but also individual awareness.

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What’s holding us back?

The studies and surveys revealed India’s performance lags in several indicators mainly because of its heavy dependence on coal, which contributes to not only greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but also high air pollution levels. Coupled with the rising population, growing energy requirements, and slow adoption of environmentally beneficial alternatives of various products such as Electric Vehicles, Solar Panels etc. the short-term effects of these circumstances have not benefited India. The report further states that “India will require an additional $160 billion per year in climate change mitigation investments to achieve its goals.” The country’s repeated low ranking in largely the same categories is the biggest reason for its overall rank, even though categories like solid waste management, forests, and agriculture witnessed an improvement in India’s performance.

What could propel us forward?

The situation however, is not all gloomy in India with the revelations of the EPI 2024. India secured a higher rank of 133 in climate change, mainly because it has made advancements in investing in renewable energy and its goal towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2070. Its projected numbers for 2025 also show an expected improvement. But what policies and activities at the individual level could further drive this improvement?

  1. India’s increasing focus on Electric Vehicles & Alternative Fuels serves as a massive boon driving much of the projected improvement. Taking into consideration that the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicular pollution accounts for around 40% of the total pollution in India, consumer awareness regarding air pollution is increasing in this sector, and more low and no-emission vehicles are replacing ICE vehicles, with this in mind, India can rapidly move up the ranks and secure a better position among the global leaders in thought leadership to drive sustainable change via the green-mobility sector.
  2. Increasing investments in the renewable energy sector coupled with the government’s vision to utilise “Green Electricity” instead of fossil fuel based electricity is another action that will improve India’s rank.
  3. The growing focus on a circular economy shows great promise for India's long-term sustainability goals. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently stated “A Circular Economy is the need of the hour, and it advocates adopting the 7Rs of the circular economy, encompassing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Remanufacture, Refurbish, and Repair. These principles should guide the design of new ventures, business parks, and industrial clusters.” implementing this idea will further boost India’s standing in the EPI ranking.

Though India’s ranking on the EPI 2024 is presently unimpressive, considering the proposed changes at the governmental level and the growing awareness at the individual level, the country is well-positioned to improve its overall rankings over the years. The rapid adoption of Electric Vehicles, the growing demand for Green Energy, the promising guidelines for a Circular Economy, and finally, the increasing awareness of the citizens that build the country, all together will drive the change that will lead us all into a “Viksit Bharat.