What is the Cleanest Country on Earth?

In an age of global warming, which countries are working the hardest to preserve the environment?
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What is the Cleanest Country on Earth? Newsweek

It's been over a year since President Trump announced that the U.S. would no longer be a part of the historic Paris Accord, the international deal which aimed to halt global temperatures from rising over 2 degrees Celsius.

The decision caused outrage from the international and scientific community. Stephen Hawking told the BBC that the Earth is "close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump's action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid."

A year later, Trump remains unruffled by scientists' apocalyptic visions of an environmentally damaged planet. In a rally speech in West Virginia earlier this week, Trump veered towards the topic of the controversial withdrawal, doubling down on his decision.

"Is there a more beautiful name than the Paris Accord?" he asked the crowd. "The West Virginia Accord, maybe I would have signed it."

He claimed the Accord would have penalised Americans, saying the U.S. is already committed to environmental causes. "We want a strong, beautiful, clean environment. I want clean air. I want crystal clean water. And we've got it.

"We've got the cleanest country in the planet right now. There's nobody cleaner than us, and it's getting better and better."

But is that really true? Like many of his vague, hyperbolic remarks, the answer is no.

Yale and Columbia Universities have collaborated on a 2018 Environmental Performance Index, which ranks each country by performance on high-priority environmental issues.

Each nation is given an overall score out of 100, factoring in 24 indicators, including environmental health, air quality and water quality.

The U.S. is far from the number one spot—in fact, it doesn't break the top 20. Instead, the top places are dominated by European Union nations, all of whom remain part of the Paris Accord.

This list shows the top 50 environmentally-friendly countries in the world according to the report, running down the nations which truly have "a strong, beautiful, clean environment."

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50. Poland. Score: 64.11. Environmental health: 58.71. Air quality: 53.04. Water quality: 69.23. Air pollution: 72.3 Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images