Performance Index

The performance index of the 2018 GGEI is defined by 20 underlying indicators, each contained within one of the four main dimensions of leadership & climate change, efficiency sectors, markets & investment and the environment.  

This section briefly describes these underlying indicators and datasets, providing direct links to the original sources where possible. For more detail on our approach to aggregating these diverse data sources to define the composite indicators in the GGEI and its four main dimensions, as well as our approach to data selection, weighting and other issues associated with creating an index, please visit the Methodology section.

Dimension 1: Leadership & Climate Change

Political leadership has a critical role to play in mainstreaming the concept of green economy and green growth. A variety of leaders, particularly heads of state, have powerful communication platforms to utilize, as well as the fiscal and policy tools that signal to the global marketplace that their country is serious about promoting green investments and industrial development. The categories below describe the GGEI approach to estimating these efforts of national leaders, as well as where each nation stands in terms of key climate change indicators and international efforts to address its adverse impacts.

Climate Change Performance

National emissions profiles differ greatly, and it is difficult to find one metric to represent a country's climate change performance. This is due to the diverse economic profile of countries; different stages of development; different sources of emissions (e.g. industry sectors, land use); and sometimes lack of data reporting. The GGEI uses three commonly referenced indicators to define climate change performance: emissions per capita, emissions per unit of GDP and emissions per unit of primary energy supply. To access these IEA data, click here.

International Climate Forums

Country behavior in international forums like the COP indicate the extent to which national governments prioritize climate change and green economic growth. The newsletter ECO publishes transparent and consistent reporting on country actions at the COP, and the GGEI performs a literature analysis of ECO to determine a qualitative score for each country according to the following point system: Positive Lead Story (Non-Annex 1 Countries) (10). Positive Lead Story (Annex 1 Countries) (9). Positive Mention (Any) (8). Neutral Score: No mentions in the ECO report (5). Negative Mention (Any) (2). Negative Lead Story (non-Annex 1 country) (1). "Fossil of the Day Award”/Mention (or Negative Lead Story for Annex 1) (0). When a country is given a negative mention AND a "Fossile of the Day Award", the country is given the lower score. When a country is given both positive and negative mentions, the country is given a mean score (only applicable to Germany). Only integer values. EU countries get scores for mentions of the own country and the EU. Note that the data presumably suffers from a negative bias, since countries are usually mentioned when they do NOT act in line with international agreements. To access the ECO reporting, click here.

Head of State

Heads of state exert strong influence on green country "brands" and their actions can shape the direction of green economy policies and investment. To measure the performance of heads of state in the green economy, the GGEI analyzes the first five Google search results with name of head of state + "green economy" within the last year. For countries with Spanish/French as official language, the search is done both in English and Spanish/French. The scoring is as follows: results which indicate direct negative actions or regression in developing the national green economy (-5). Results reference or indirectly mention the political leader negatively as related to the development of the national green economy (-3). There are no results relevant to the head of state’s development of the green economy or there is a mix of positive and negative results (5). The results reference or indirectly mention the leader positively as related to the development of the national green economy (+3). The top result is from the state website and there are additional sites, such as the UN, news sites or green economy conferences, detailing direct positive action toward developing a green economy (+5).

Media Coverage

Media can educate the public on green economy issues and hold stakeholders accountable for policy choices. The GGEI analyzes the first five Google search results whith name of the country + "green economy" within the last year. For countries with Spanish/French as official language search is done both in English and Spanish/French. The scoring is as follows: Media results come from a major English-language (or when relevant, Spanish/French-language) news source, such as the NYT or BBC, and portray direct negative action on development of the green economy (-5). Media results are from a less-well known source or may offer indirect negative mentions of development of the green economy (-3). There are no mentions or media results relevant to green economy development for that country. Or results are otherwise, mixed or neutral (5). Media results are from a less-well known source or may offer indirect positive mentions of development of the green economy (+3). Media results come from a major English-language (or when relevant, Spanish/French-language) news source, such as the NYT or BBC, and portray direct positive action on development of the green economy (+5).

Dimension 2: Efficiency Sectors

The performance of efficiency sectors - including buildings, transport, and energy - are at the root of the green economic prospects of most countries, particularly more developed ones. By transitioning to more efficient resource use in these sectors, many countries can realize productivity gains and lessen their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The 2018 GGEI looks at how the 130 nations we track perform presently in terms of sustainable building, emissions from the transport sector, sustainable tourism, renewable energy for electricity production and resource efficiency. While extensive efforts were made to develop an approximation of manufacturing sector performance, we could not identify suitable data that was applicable to the majority of nations in the GGEI. This dimension also reveals stark differences between developed and emerging economies, and best efforts were made to use data that both provided the country coverage we require while at the same time serving as a reasonable proxy for performance of each country, regardless of their stage of development.


Buildings are a key focus in the decarbonisation effort as they contribute significantly to GHG emissions. There is large scope for efficiency gains, which will reduce the use of fossil fuels and suppress global emissions. The GGEI uses Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification statistics to estimate the extent of sustainable building in the countries covered by the GGEI. Data is collected on the total building square meterage that is covered by LEED certification, starting from the beginning of LEED certification. These raw data can be found through the country profile portal produced through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) here.


Transportation is another sector which has a major contribution to global GHG emissions. It is a sector that receives a lot of media attention with the rise of EVs. Improving efficiency levels in this sector is vital especially considering the increased vehicle usage expected as a result of development in Asia and Africa. The GGEI uses CO2 transport emissions data published by the International Energy Agency (2015) to measure the indicator. To access these IEA data, click here.


Measuring the sustainability of a nation’s tourism sector is a challenging task due to the fact that the sector uses the physical assets of other sectors (i.e. buildings, transport). This overlap invites the risk of double-counting emissions, so the GGEI utilises a novel approach to measuring sustainable tourism. Qualitative analysis of national tourism websites is undertaken to determine the extent to which sustainable tourism is promoted. The GGEI qualitative analysis is based on five main factors: the extent to which sustainable tourism features; communication of concrete links to sustainable tourism resources in-country; links to tour operators or other tourism assets who receive certification; interactive content and a social media presence to support these topics; and direct links to people who can support visitors as they consider traveling to the destination. A score between 0-2 is given for each of these five main factors, giving a maximum possible score of 10.


The GGEI uses the proportion of a nation’s electricity that is generated from renewable sources as a proxy for national level energy efficiency. Data from the IEA and WorldBank on national renewable electricity output as a percentage of total electricity output is used. In this instance, renewable electricity is defined as hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, tides, wind, biomass, and biofuels. To access these data, click here.

Resource Efficiency

The GGEI uses the recycling rate in each country as an estimate for the national resource efficiency and progress towards a circular economy. These recycling data were accessed from the WASTE ATLAS, and can be accessed here.

Dimension 3: Markets & Investment

Transitioning to a green economy will require significant public and private investment, as well as a commitment from national leaders to promote the right mix of fiscal and policy incentives to accelerate green growth. Much like efficiency sectors, understanding markets and investment in the context of the green economy required important considerations in data selection to account for the wider diversity of countries in this edition of the GGEI as compared to 2014 and 2016 (130 this year versus 80 in 2016 and 60 in 2014). For example, developed countries consistently outperform emerging ones in cleantech innovation, as measured through the WWF Cleantech Group Global Cleantech Innovation Index (GCII). Recognizing this, the GGEI also references more general measures of innovation like the recently released Global Innovation Index published by INSEAD. This allows the GGEI to reveal not only where cleantech innovation is concentrated today, but also the greatest opportunities for technology transfer over time based upon the innovative "inclination" of a diverse range of nations.  

Renewable Energy Investment

The GGEI uses IRENA renewable capacity data as a proxy for measuring the attractiveness of national markets for renewable energy investment. The 5-year trend in new installed renewable capacity (2013-2017) is used to identify countries that have attracted significant renewable investment. These data can be accessed here.

Cleantech Innovation

The GGEI considers two main indicators to measure the extent to which each national market provides a vital climate for cleantech innovation. The first is the number of companies located in each GGEI country listed on the Cleantech Group's annual Cleantech 100 list, accounting for the years 2017 and 2018. And the second is a measure of clean energy patents issued to each country for the years 2016 and 2017, as reported by the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) published quarterly by Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C..

Corporate Sustainability

There is an increasing focus on companies to improve the sustainability of their business and decarbonise their supply chains. The GGEI identifies the top 3 companies in each country in terms of market capitalisation, and then assesses the efforts made by these companies to improve the sustainability of their business. Certification schemes in this sector are relatively immature, however the GGEI utilises the two leading systems: The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and Science Based Targets (SBT). The CDP works with over 6000 corporations to disclose the environmental impact of their business. The GGEI awards companies one point for submitting climate change data to the CDP and a further point if they appear on the CDP A-list. SBTs provide companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The GGEI awards companies one point if they have committed to having an SBT set and a further point if they have already had their SBT set. The GGEI therefore offers a maximum potential score of 4 points per company, resulting in a maximum national score of 12 points for Corporate Sustainability.

Green Investment Promotion & Facilitation

It is vital that there is significant government-led support and promotion of green investment to kick-start supply chains and infrastructure development. The GGEI assesses national investment websites to ascertain the level to which green investment features and is promoted. Each agency is ranked according to five main factors: the extent to which green or cleantech issues are featured in their activities; communication of national initiatives related to cleantech and green industry; data and other knowledge resources geared toward green or cleantech investors; interactive content and a social media presence to support these topics; and direct links to people who can support investors as they consider the market for future business activity.

Dimension 4: Environment 

There are seven sub-categories defining this final dimension of the GGEI: agriculture, air quality, water resources, water & sanitation, biodiversity & habitat, fisheries and forests. In an effort to better coordinate the GGEI with other leading indicies in the space, we derived performance scores for these seven sub-categories directly from the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The EPI is produced jointly by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The 2018 EPI was produced with generous support from the McCall MacBain Foundation and Mark T. DeAngelis.