Performance Index

The performance index of the 2016 GGEI is defined by 24 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 communications 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

The GGEI calculates three main values for each nation covered: CO2 per capita, CO2 per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), and CO2 per unit of primary energy use. The resulting composite indicator provides a basic measure of where each nation performs relative to the overall GGEI coverage. It also provides the GGEI with a standard measure applicable to all eighty nations. The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) published by Germanwatch offers a more comprehensive measure, including emissions trends and relevant policy performance, but does not cover all eighty nations in the GGEI. To access the latest CCPI, click here.

International Climate Forums

National statements and overall behavior at international climate forums can indicate the extent to which nations are committed to green economy, sustainable development and addressing the adverse impacts of climate change in a meaningful way.  The GGEI assesses national behavior at the recent COP21 in Paris, France and the Bonn Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. To do this, we performed a literature analysis of the daily reporting provided through the Climate Action Network (ECO). To access their reporting, click here.

Head of State

Statements and initiatives associated with Heads of State can serve to introduce the general public to the green economy concept, as well as signal to the market that a national economy is oriented towards green investment and economic growth. The GGEI generates a qualitative rank of these political Heads of State through analyzing the top five Google search results in the past year, giving higher value to leaders who are more closely associated with the green economy concept. The analysis is conducted in English, as well as in French and Spanish for GGEI countries where French or Spanish is the official language. 

Media Coverage

How countries are portrayed in global media related to the green economy suggests the extent to which their nations are communicating information and opportunities on the topic. The GGEI generates a qualitative rank of country performance through analyzing the top five Google search results in the past year, giving higher value to nations more closely associated with the green economy concept and countries with coverage in top tier media outlets (selected based on global audience size). The analysis is conducted in English, as well as in French and Spanish for GGEI countries where French or Spanish is the official language. 

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 2016 GGEI looks at how the eighty 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.


With their significant contribution to GHG emissions, buildings are critical to ensuring more green economic growth in the majority of GGEI countries. While some data exist on national efforts to retrofit their building stock and provide incentives for new sustainable residential and commercial buildings, the GGEI instead uses Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification statistics to estimate the extent of sustinable building in the countries covered by the GGEI.  These raw data can be found through the new country profile portal produced through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) here.


Much like buildings, various forms of transportation contribute significantly to national GHG emissions, and introducing more efficiencies to this sector is a critical step to achieving greener economic growth. Also like buildings, we considered compelling indicators like vehicle registrations by type, but found that these data did not provide the coverage required to measure the eighty nations in the GGEI in a comparable manner. Thus, the GGEI uses both the most recent emissions from the transport sector and the 10-year trend, as reported through the International Energy Agency and World Bank here.


Sustainable tourism is a delicate topic to measure as its definition and resource use tend to vary across geographies, as well the fact that the tourism sector uses physical assets of other sectors (e.g. buildings, transport), exposing the risk that this activity would be double-counted through an exercise like the GGEI. Thus, sustainable tourism in the GGEI again relies upon certification schemes, as well as an internal evaluation of the national tourism websites and the extent to which they communicate concrete ways for tourists to visit their country in a sustainable manner. For more information on sustainable tourism schemes segmented by country, please visit Destinet, Knowledge Networking Portal for Sustainable and Responsible Tourism here. The GGEI internal evaluation of the tourism ministry websites is based on five main factors: the extent to which sustainable tourism is featured; 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.


The GGEI uses the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources as an estimate for the extent to which the energy sector in each country is "green." These data from the IEA and World Bank can be found here and convey the share of electricity generated by renewable power plants in total electricity generated by all types of plants. In this instance, renewable electricity is defined as hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, tides, wind, biomass, and biofuels. 

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 here and supplemented by regional data provided by organizations like EcoMENA.

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 (eighty this year versus sixty 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 data from the IRENA REsource online data platform to calculate the net installed renewable energy capacity for each country in 2015. We use these statistics as a proxy measure for the attractiveness of each country for renewable energy investment.  The REsource platform 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 2014 and 2015. And the second is a measure of clean energy patents issued to each country, as reported by the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) published quarterly by Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C..  

Corporate Sustainability

Companies are playing increasingly central roles in greening their supply chains and reducing the emissions associated with their operations. Given the cross-border nature of commerce, it is difficult to quantify the corporate "footprints" of companies based in a given country as the majority of their footprint may be elsewhere globally. Trucost is one useful database that provides data on the natural capital dependencies of thousands of companies worldwide. For this GGEI edition, we analyzed the top three companies in each country based upon market capitalization, and then determined the extent of their reporting to the CDP Corporate Disclosure Programs on both climate change and supply chains. Companies that received "A-list" ranking from the CDP were given additional points in this qualitative ranking. For more information about company responses and reporting to the CDP, please click here.

Green Investment Promotion & Facilitation

The GGEI ranks the investment promotion agency of each nation it covers to determine the extent to which their efforts are oriented towards promoting and faciliating green investments.  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 & Natural Capital

There are six sub-categories defining this final dimension of the GGEI: agriculture, air quality, water, 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 six sub-categories directly from the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The 2016 Environmental Performance Index is a joint project between the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy (YCELP) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and support from the Samuel Family Foundation and the McCall MacBain Foundation. To access the results, datasets, and underlying methodology for these six environmental sub-categories, please click here.