Canada Ranks 12th on OECD Environmental Performance Index 2020

Some good news! The Fraser Institute’s annual environmental performance index has ranked Canada 12th out of 33 high-income OECD countries!

Called the Environmental Ranking for Canada and the OECD - 2nd Edition, Canada dropped from 10th place to 12th versus its 2018 counterpart but still ranks well above average with a score of 67 out of a possible 100 points.

OECD Environmental Performance Index Rankings 2020:

  1. Sweden – 80.00
  2. New Zealand – 74.4
  3. Finland – 74.05
  4. Denmark – 73.21
  5. Spain – 71.84
  6. United Kingdom – 71.15
  7. Switzerland – 70.89
  8. France – 69.56
  9. Norway – 69.13
  10. United States – 67.80
  11. Luxembourg – 67.39
  12. Canada – 67.00
  13. Austria – 64.96
  14. Iceland – 64.30
  15. Portugal – 63.59
  16. Greece – 63.53
  17. Slovak Republic – 63.09
  18. Slovenia – 62.18
  19. Estonia – 62.01
  20. Australia – 60.96
  21. Belgium – 59.37
  22. Italy – 58.78
  23. Germany – 58.39
  24. Hungary – 58.34
  25. Latvia – 55.55
  26. Poland – 55.19
  27. Czech Republic – 54.64
  28. Ireland – 54.63
  29. Chile – 52.87
  30. Netherlands – 50.23
  31. Japan – 46.25
  32. Israel – 44.17
  33. South Korea – 41.44

Methodology Used

canada ranks 10th out of 33 OECD countries on 2018 environmental index

Why is Canada compared with nations part of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)? Why not include other countries as well?

OECD members are some of the highest-income earning countries in the world and are constantly collecting, analyzing and reporting on economic growth and the impacts of such on the environment.

In most cases, they also put a significant amount of effort and resources towards taking care of and protecting the environment. As a result, they have the concrete data necessary for organizations to use in creating indexes like the Environmental Ranking for Canada and the OECD 2020.

Two categories are evaluated to determine the rankings for each of the 33 high-income OECD countries in the environmental performance index. They include:

#1 - Protecting Human Health and Well-Being

  • Air Quality (2 indicators)
  • Water Quality (2 indicators)
  • Greenhouse Gases (3 indicators)

#2 - Protecting Ecosystems

  • Air Emissions (2 indicators)
  • Water Resources (2 indicators)
  • Forests (1 indicator)
  • Biodiversity (2 indicators)
  • Agriculture (2 indicators)
  • Fisheries (1 indicator)

For each of the 17 total indicators above, a total score out of 100 is given – with 0 representing poor environmental performance, while a score of 100 represents excellent environmental performance.

Final scores for each country are then calculated by averaging all scores assigned to all indicators as per weighted value. Both main categories above have been given equal weighting by the Fraser Institute for reasons detailed on the original report here.

Summary of Canada’s Ranking

Air Quality

  • Average exposure to PM5 (μg/)m3) – 4th / 33
  • Average PM5 exceedance (%) – 1st / 33

Water Quality

  • Access to improved sanitation facilities (%) – 13th / 33
  • Access to improved drinking water sources (%) – 13th / 33

Greenhouse Gases

  • Carbon intensity (thousand tonnes/PPP millions $GDP) – 31st / 33
  • Change in carbon intensity (%) – 21st / 33
  • Low-emitting electricity production – 8th / 33

Air Emissions

  • Sox emissions intensities (kg/PPP thousands $GDP) – 27th / 33
  • Change in Sox emissions intensities – 20th / 33

Water Resources

  • Wastewater treatment rate (%) – 19th / 33
  • Intensity of use of water (%) – 4th / 28


  • Change in forest cover (%) – 29th / 33


  • Threatened species (%) – 12th / 32
  • Terrestrial protected areas (%) – 32nd / 33


  • Nitrogen use balance (kg/ha) – 4th / 31
  • Pesticide use (kg/ha) – 11th / 33


  • Change in Marine Trophic Index (%) – 16th / 26

Discussing Canada's Index Performance

Canada ranks relatively well out of the 33 high-income OECD countries on the index.

Some of its best-performing indicators includes average exposure to fine particulate matter (the kind that can cause severe damage to your lungs and overall health) and exceedance of such particulate matter, ranking 4th and 1st, respectively.

Canada also ranks 4th for water use intensity in addition to nitrogen-use balance indicator under agriculture and protecting ecosystems.

Perhaps most notably, Canada ranks 8th out of 33 for low-emitting electricity production, a feat considering many OECD members in the European Union are highly focused on renewable power and energy.

Today, Canada gets about 82% of its electricity demand from non-emission sources including hydro, nuclear, wind and solar.

Canada also exports non-emission-generated electricity to parts of the United States, displacing more greenhouse gas intensive generation processes and reducing emissions by millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year.

Canada's Unique Characteristics

canada ranks 25th on environmental performance index 2018

Canada didn't perform as well versus OECD countries for emission-related indicators. However, we should all be reminded that Canada is a world-leader in working towards lowering emissions while investing in new clean tech and renewables to make the transition to a lower carbon economy.

All Canadians should be proud of what their country has accomplished thus far when it comes to climate action.

Let’s also keep in mind some of the unique characteristics of Canada versus most other OECD nations, especially those smaller, more densely  populated in the EU. Canada:

  • is a very large country
  • experiences cold weather which can come and go for 6 to 8 months of the year
  • is a manufacturing and energy hub of the world
  • must transport goods and services across vast distances
  • is a net exporting nation

Canada needs to continue to be the world-class environmental steward it is moving forward while also finding ways to balance green initiatives with a strong economy that relies heavily on natural resources for prosperity and wealth.

We Should Be Proud!

Let’s celebrate Canada’s successes! Ranking 12th out of 33 high-income OECD nations on the Environmental Ranking for Canada and the OECD - 2nd Edition is something to be proud about!

Let’s also celebrate the fact that Canada is a world-class leader for protecting people and the environment!

As long as the world needs rare platinum group metals, wood products, oil and gas, agricultural products, and so on and so forth, it should all come from Canada because we do it best!

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