Study ranks Canadians second-last on environment
Out of 14 countries, Canada scored a very low rating from the National Geographic Society and polling firm GlobeScan.
Environment Minister John Baird called the study a "wake-up call," but said Canadians have to use more energy simply because they live in a colder climate.
"We're a northern country where it's cold. Obviously, Florida would use demonstrably less energy than we would," Baird told CTV News. "But it is a wake-up call that Canadians have to do more, the government has to do more, and the major polluters have to do more."
One thousand Canadians were asked questions that measured their behaviour in areas such as housing, transportation, food and consumption of goods, and each respondent was awarded a score out of 100 based on their environmental footprint.
Criteria for the "Greendex" score included size and energy efficiency of residence, method of travel and daily commute and use of fresh water, among other factors.
The top two nations were Brazil and India, while the U.S. was dead last, just behind Canada.
"The Greendex gives us an unprecedented, meaningful look at how consumers across the globe are behaving," said Terry Garcia, National Geographic's executive vice president of Mission Programs, in a news release.
"It will allow us over time to assess the progress that people are making to conserve, minimize waste and protect natural resources for the future.
Here are the results, ranked from best to worst in terms of environmental impact:
- Brazil: 60 points
- India: 60 points
- China: 56.1
- Mexico: 54.3
- Hungary: 53.2
- Russia: 52.4
- United Kingdom: 50.2
- Germany: 50.2
- Australia: 50.2
- Spain: 50.0
- Japan: 49.1
- France: 48.7
- Canada: 48.5
- U.S.: 44.9
"We wanted to give people a better idea of how consumers in different countries are doing in taking action to preserve our planet by tracking, reporting, and promoting environmentally sustainable consumption and citizen behavior," the report states.
The report is different from others that grade countries according to the environmental track record of their governments, companies and industry practices, because it focuses on the habits of individual consumers.
All of the questions fell under the following four categories: energy, transportation, travel and consumer goods.
Consumers could earn points if they made choices to repair rather than replace items, if they chose green products over environmentally unfriendly items, or if they used cold water to wash their laundry and used a clothesline rather than a dryer.