Is Sweden Really Green or Just Rich?

Brian Williams and his team at NBC announced Sweden to be the greenest country on the planet, and I sure hope their correspondent enjoyed her Sweden junket. However, according to the environmental performance index, Switzerland is the greenest country in the world. But that probably doesn’t work for people who want to portray overly regulated and taxed countries like Scandinavia as the best places in the world to live.

Ok, so granted, Sweden has done a great job at meeting their Kyoto goals, because they do not have oil and have relied on nuclear power for so many years. Sweden is also a rich country, and this is where NBC’s reporting fall way short. If you look at the environmental performance index, it is easy to see that the countries that are ranked high on environmental performance with few exceptions are countries with a high GDP per capita.

The conclusion is the one that you will hear the amazing policy fellows at CEI repeat over and over again, wealthier is healthier and richer is cleaner. The greenest thing you could have done to celebrate Lenin’s birthday today, eh…, I mean to celebrate earth day today is to help increase free trade, help do something to get another poor farmer or factory worker in a developing country get out of poverty. If they get rich, they can afford to clean up their environment, just like the countries on top of the environmental performance index have been able to do.