World-leading sustainability index sees Denmark rise to 1st place in the ranking

Published 04-06-2020

Experts from Yale and Columbia universities refer to Denmark as leading the world on climate change action in the newly released 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a key reason for the #1 ranking.

The EPI demonstrates Denmark’s leadership through a number of examples of the green transition. This includes facts such as Denmark’s reduction of CO2 emissions by more than half since peaking in 1996 and that 47% of electricity was sourced from wind power in 2019. Researchers also emphasize current plans of at least tripling offshore wind capacity by 2030 through the construction of two energy islands with an initial capacity of 2GW each, and Denmark’s 70% reduction target by 2030 enshrined in the new climate act.

“The fact that Denmark is now number one on an index as celebrated and influential as the EPI is a testament to the fact that even a small country is capable of great change. We want to be a global source of inspiration and hopefully influence others to follow the same path we have taken. I am pleased to see that the experts also highlight our recent commitment to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030,” says the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen.

“I am proud of the recognition of the Danish achievements within environment and climate. For many years we have set ambitious long lasting targets for environment. Even though Denmark ranks high on the index as a global leader, I believe that it is essential to stress that we are presently in an ecological crisis and the crisis is global.  Production, consumption and sourcing has negative consequences outside national borders. And we are all affected by climate change and the loss of biodiversity. The Danish government is therefore significantly raising the ambitions for climate, environment and biodiversity, and we hope to do it together with the rest of Europe and globally,” says Minister for Environment, Lea Wermelin.

“Denmark’s #1 position in the 2020 Environmental Performance Index reflects high-level focus and carefully conceived Government policies on the full spectrum of sustainability challenges with particular effort centered on delivering deep decarbonization. We hope other nations across the world will take inspiration from Denmark’s leadership,” says Daniel Esty, Director at Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Denmark made the leap from 3rd in the previous iteration of the EPI in a rather bleak context as the 2020 EPI reveals that progress on mitigating climate change globally is not progressing nearly fast enough to meet the collective goals of the Paris Agreement. 

“The ranking is by no means a reason to rest on our laurels. On the contrary, we feel compelled to keep working hard. This is not a competition and we want to use our privileged position to inspire others, engage in the global debate, and show green leadership,” says the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen.


Facts: The EPI is a biennial environmental scorecard produced by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities that ranks 180 countries on 32 sustainability criteria across 11 categories, based on historical data. The primary objective of the index is to enable a detailed comparison to be able to evaluate which measures have the most effect. 

Government of Denmark Contact: Press Officer Lasse Bendtsen, phone: +45 41 72 38 84/ email: