Welcome to the Earth.Org Global Sustainability Index, where Earth.Org examines the policies and actions regarding the environment of every nation on earth. Combining the most respected global indexes on pollution, climate change, policy, energy, oceans, biodiversity we have produced an overall Global Index, which will be updated annually. This is the Global Sustainability Index scorecard for Latvia.
Latvia has demonstrated positive development toward economic, environmental and social sustainability. Having achieved independence in 1990, Latvia is still developing its social and cultural infrastructure, and the core of Latvia’s 2030 goals is to put people first, improving health and education infrastructure, as well as reducing unemployment and poverty.
Latvia has experienced steady economic growth since 2010, and has been striving to decouple this growth from environmentally destructive practices and industries. Renewables have been key to this ambition, as the country benefits from extensive forest and water resources which are used for biomass energy and hydropower. Indeed, these accounted for 40% of Latvia’s energy supply in 2017, placing the country as a leader on renewable energy share among OECD countries.
The nation has a long way to go as it still depends on imported fossil fuels for the remaining 60% of energy. The latvian unemployment and poverty rates remain above OECD average, and there is a risk that social and economic growth may be pursued at the expense of environmental protections, especially with forestry and wood processing being major employment and revenue sectors. Energy consumption and GHG emissions have grown in agriculture especially, as forests are cut back to make room for a growing agricultural sector (OECD 2019).
- Latvia’s total greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 57% between 1990 and 2016 thanks to increased use of natural gas and biomass while simultaneously phasing out coal.
- As part of the EU’s emission trading scheme (ETS), the country is subject to an EU-wide cap.
- The key policies and measures presented in 2018 were awareness-raising, energy auditing, energy management systems for large agglomerations and enterprises, as well as grant provision and low-interest loans.
* Our Energy ranking considers emission intensity (units of energy per unit of GDP). When one or both are low enough to make their influence negligible on a global scale, the country is left out of the ranking.
You might also like: Global Emissions (2016)
Biodiversity, Policy: Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G. (2019): Sustainable Development Report 2019. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
Oceans: Halpern, Benjamin S., et al. “An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean.” Nature 488.7413 (2012): 615-620.
Pollution: Wendling, Z. A., Emerson, J. W., Esty, D. C., Levy, M. A., de Sherbinin, A., et al. (2018). 2018 Environmental Performance Index. New Haven, CT: Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. https://epi.yale.edu/
Climate Change: Climate Change Performance Index; Jan Burck, Ursula Hagen, Niklas Höhne, Leonardo Nascimento, Christoph Bals, ISBN 978-3-943704-75-4, 2019
Energy: Enerdata –World Energy Statistics – Yearbook.