A new study by the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute in Australia that has ranked most of the world’s countries for their environmental impact.

The study, Evaluating the Relative Environmental Impact of Countries, uses seven indicators of environmental degradation: natural forest loss, habitat conversion, marine captures, fertilizer use, water pollution, carbon emissions and species threat.

Australia was ranked as the ninth worst country in absolute terms, not just per capita – in other words Australia was again “punching above its weight”, doing as much damage as countries with up to fifty times the population. The country ranked 7th worst in habitat conversion. It ranked 9th for fertilizer use and 10th for natural forest loss.

Brazil was found to be the most environmentally damaging nation. As well as ranking first overall, Brazil was placed in first place for natural forest loss, third place for natural habitat conversion, third place for fertilizer use, fourth place for threatened species, fourth place for CO2 emissions and eigth place for water pollution.

The USA was rated as the second worst country because of its poor record on fertilizer use, CO2 emissions, water pollution, marine captures and threatened species.

The USA was followed by China and then Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, India and Russia. Peru was in tenth place, mainly because of over fishing and trade in endangered species.

The study concluded that the notion that wealthy countries are good for the environment because they can afford to do more to protect it is false and that, in fact, the more wealth a country has, the more it is likely to be damaging the environment.