How green is your native land? The 4th edition of the Global Green Economy Index, produced by private U.S.-based consultancy Dual Citizen LLC, has just been released, and you can look it up. The index provides an in-depth look at how 60 countries and 70 cities are doing in developing more environmentally friendly economies, in actual performance and in how experts perceive their performance.

In the world's greenest city, Copenhagen commuting on bicycle is routine.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

"We first published the Global Green Economy Index in 2010 guided by a belief that the environment, climate change and green, low-carbon growth would rapidly become defining issues for national policy makers and the global reputation of countries," says the report's introduction. "As we went to press, 2,646 events in nearly 162 countries mobilized pressure on over 100 world leaders gathered in New York at the United Nations to take substantive and binding action on climate change. The link between these issues and the reputation of leaders and nation states is more vivid today than ever before."

The 60 countries covered are a dramatic increase from the 27 included in the last report in 2012. It assessed nations on every continent and found that the Scandinavian countries, along with Germany, were clear leaders. Sweden and Norway headed up the list of actual performance, with Costa Rica ranking third, inside the top 15 for the first time, and Germany and Denmark rounding out the top five. Poland, Senegal, Qatar, Vietnam and Mongolia bring up the rear in slots 56-60, with China just above them at 55. The U.S. came in close to the middle, ranked at 28.

Perception was very different. The study found that some countries got less credit than their green economies merited, while other countries got too much credit for making environmentally friendly moves. Austria, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal and Spain were among the European countries that the index found needed "improved green country branding," along with the African nations of Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda and Zambia, the latter four all covered in the index for the first time.

Other countries, some of the world's most developed nations, including the U.S., Japan, the Netherlands and Australia, get more credit than their lagging performance deserves. The U.S. came in sixth in perception, while Japan, ranked 44th in performance, came in seventh in perception.

Top 10 greenest countries based on performance. Chart credit: Dual Citizen LLC

On the liability side, the index revealed that some of the world's fastest growing economies aren't growing green economies. In addition to China, rapidly growing countries like Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are also doing poorly.

Four of the ten greenest cities were, unsurprisingly, in Scandinavia, with Copenhagen in first place, Stockholm in third, Helsinki ninth and Oslo tenth. The top ten was rounded out by Amsterdam (2), Vancouver (4), London (5), Berlin (6), New York (7) and Singapore (8).

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