MAP: The most toxic country in the world

Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that continued emissions of greenhouse gases at their current level could cause a disastrous and irreversible impact on the planet.

The effects of climate change are already clear: 2016 has officially been named the hottest year on record with temperatures having not been this warm for 115,000 years, while in the Antarctic this warm weather has caused a huge crack to appear in the Larsen C ice shelf. If this iceberg - a quarter of the size of Wales - breaks away, there are worries that it will cause sea levels to rise by 4 inches.

It is now more important than ever that countries worldwide launch serious initiatives to tackle climate change in order to save Earth from catastrophic consequences. The map below reveals the most toxic countries in the world, and highlights those that need to do the most to limit their impact upon the environment and human health.

Data for this research was obtained from the International Energy Agency and World Health Organization. Each country’s performance was ranked on five factors:

  1. Energy consumption, per capita
  2. Carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion, per capita
  3. Air pollution
  4. Deaths attributable to air pollution, per 100,00 capita
  5. Renewable energy production

The ranks for each country were then averaged to give an overall impression of a country’s toxicity.

Most Toxic Countries

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Key Findings

Saudi Arabia is the most toxic country in the world, having the highest recorded air pollution, surpassing India and even China.

Neighbouring oil-rich countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dominate the top 10 most toxic countries in the world, and have some of the lowest renewable energy production despite having an ideal climate - low rainfall and prolonged daylight hours - for solar energy.

The research also shows that countries in the Middle East have some of the highest number of deaths attributable to air pollution; Turkmenistan witnesses 108 deaths per 100,000 every year.

Surprisingly, the Nordic countries are the biggest energy guzzlers, despite their progressive attitude towards sustainability and renewable energy. Iceland has the highest energy consumption in the world, with Norway, Finland and Sweden all ranking in the top 10.

The UK ranks 81st for toxicity, faring better than other economic powerhouses such as the US (66th), Germany (63rd), and Russia (26th), but does have some of the worst CO2 emissions in the world.

It is hoped that this research puts even further pressure on global leaders to put in place safeguards against climate change in the hope of saving the planet from a dangerous future.

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