CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 30, 2023 /CNW/ — Produced by MIT Technology Review Insights in association with Kyndryl, Intel, and Iris Ceramica Group, the Green Future Index (GFI) is the third annual comparative ranking of 76 nations and territories on their progress toward developing a sustainable, low-carbon future for their economies and societies.
Based on qualitative and quantitative research conducted between June 2022 and January 2023, the interactive Green Future Index 2023 measures the extent to which countries and territories are moving toward a green future by reducing carbon emissions, developing clean energy, innovating in green sectors, and preserving the environment, as well as the degree to which governments are implementing effective climate policies.
Green Leaders reveal more consistency than progress. All but three countries in the top ranks for 2023—Green Leaders—were in the same cohort for 2022. Iceland remains top-ranked, and only one of the top 10 (South Korea) was not European. Just one country moved into the Green Leaders group: Luxembourg (to 16th place from 28th in 2022). The United States saw little improvement with a nudge up from 20th to 19th. Roughly half of all Green Leader scores declined during the past year. Although efforts to reduce carbon in economies are increasing and policy work is strengthening, early returns are diminishing.
Jumping around in the Greening Middle. The 20 countries of the Greening Middle put sustainable policy formulation into action, and many rankings changed substantially. These include emerging economies able to link sustainable policies to economic incentives, including South Africa (in 25th place for 2023, up from 31st) and Uruguay (26th, up from 38th in 2022). As in past years, the highest-ranked emerging economy for the Green Future Index 2023 is Costa Rica, in 24th place.
Wealth matters. Despite notable efforts to link economic and sustainable development, emerging economies continue to fare poorly in Green Future Index 2023 rankings. Correlating rankings with GDP per capita reveals an uncomfortable truth: wealth contributes significantly to a country’s ability to define its low-carbon future.
Economics alone does not define the future. Seventeen of the 35 countries that improved scores in 2023 were poorer countries. Argentina and Indonesia saw the biggest increases of all countries for 2023, moving 20 and 21 places respectively, placing them 48th and 49th overall. Significant commitment to improving a single pillar was behind both increases: Argentina’s green society score increased, as did Indonesia’s carbon emissions score.
The unbearable weight of carbon. Economic over-reliance on fossil fuel production or natural resource extraction contributes to lower scores. Most Climate Laggards are weighed down by carbon-intensive industries. Australia is notable for beginning to free itself from a carbon-intensive economy. Its new policy-focused business incentives allowed it to jump 10 places in the 2023 rankings to 42nd place.
“As the world faces the critical issue of climate change, the Green Future Index provides a comprehensive analysis of how countries are progressing toward a sustainable, low-carbon future,” says Laurel Ruma, global editorial director, MIT Technology Review Insights. She continues, “Although there are clear leaders in this space, the report also reveals some uncomfortable truths about the link between wealth and a country’s ability to define its low-carbon future. However, we’re encouraged to see that commitment to improving sustainability is not limited to high-income countries, with developing nations such as Argentina and Indonesia making significant progress.”
“It’s clear we all need to do more to combat climate change, and the Green Future Index can be a guide for policymakers and enterprises alike. As we continue to navigate these challenges, we must focus on driving meaningful change through policy work, innovative technologies, and reducing carbon emissions. MIT Technology Review Insights is committed to playing our part in this critical effort and we continue to support the development of a sustainable future for all.” explains Ruma.
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