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These Are The Countries With The Greenest Economies

As usual, Scandinavia tops the competition.

When it comes to the “green” economy in the U.S., perception outruns reality. We may not be doing as well are we think we are.

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That’s the conclusion from a new report ranking countries both for their green performance, and people’s impressions of it. On the first, we rank sixth out of 60 nations. On the latter we rank 28th.

The 2014 Global Green Economy Index, published by Dual Citizen, scores performance across four categories–leadership and climate change, efficiency, markets and investment, and environment–while aggregating a host of data for each. For example, it uses the International Energy Agency’s Climate Change Performance Index in the first category, and Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index in the environment category. The perception survey is based on about 1,000 responses from experts in several countries.

From the report:

The U.S. ranks surprisingly well in the GGEI perception survey, driven by high scores as a target for investment and green innovation, and the perception that the U.S. is successfully greening key sectors like buildings and transport.

Despite also performing well in the Markets & Investment category, the U.S. has a long way to go in other areas, ranking poorly on our climate change performance measure and on many environmental categories, most notably fisheries and forests.

China is another country that flatters to deceive. It comes 13th on the perception side, but 55th for performance. Similarly, Japan. It scores 7th for perception, but only 44th for performance. Going the other way, countries like Austria, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain all have performance scores well ahead of their perception numbers.

Overall, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Denmark come in the top five for both perception and performance. The top tens are mostly made up of European states. Most of the worst performers are fast-growing emerging nations, including Ghana, Qatar, and Vietnam.

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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