Russia’s bleak environmental record has pushed it to the bottom of a new global ranking of how countries have been tackling pollution and managing their natural resources in the first decade of the century.
A “severe breakdown” in environmental public health in Russia between 2000 and 2010, as well as a worsening performances on overfishing and forest losses, means it has shown the least improvement of 132 countries studied in a report by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities in the US.
“This is one of the big stories [of the study],” said Daniel C. Esty, a Yale professor, pointing out that Russia’s exploitation of its vast natural resources appeared at times to be “unchecked by basic regulation” – hitting its air and water quality.
“What this reflects is a society that looks to be suffering serious consequences of lack of good governance,” he said. “This is what happens when you have a degree of non-transparency and an economic system that has not got boundaries.”
Latvia, on the other hand, topped the study’s list of which countries were improving, and by how much, between 2000 and 2010, followed by Azerbaijan, Romania, Albania and Egypt.
The elimination of coal from Latvia’s electricity generation mix and other measures such as reforestation helped push it to the top of the table, says the study, which was conducted with the World Economic Forum and is being released during this week’s annual WEF meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos.
The report comes amid concern among some global leaders that environmental issues are receiving less attention at present because of the more immediate focus on economic problems.
This year’s Davos meeting will feature a host of events focusing on problems affecting the environment and resources. A survey of delegates in advance of the event shows the business and policymaking community is uneasy about the problems of resource constraints.