Climate change continues to be a crisis in our modern world. Reports appear on a daily basis that highlight the urgency of the situation and how citizens need to unite globally to work towards conserving the earth’s resources and saving it from certain doom. As industrialisation and urbanisation continue to wreak havoc on nature, many countries turn a blind eye to the impending disaster that climate change will bring upon the world.
In spite of this, all hope is not lost. There are a few countries in the world that are working overtime to promote sustainability in their way of life and save the planet’s resources. In the spirit of World Environment Day, here are eight countries from around the world that are striving to make a difference.
These countries have been ranked by the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The EPI essentially provides metrics that gauge how close a country is to achieving established environmental policy goals and slowing down global warming.
Ranked 1 by the EPI 2018, Switzerland is consistently working towards overcoming climate change, energy and air pollution. A majority of the energy in the country is obtained through hydroelectric power, which results in a very low carbon footprint. The national parks and large areas of greenery are protected very well by the country and score high in terms of biodiversity and habitat. The use of renewable energy has helped promote a green economy.
Laws in Switzerland have promoted the development of farmlands, protecting them from wide-scale infrastructural expansions. The clean air and beautiful lakes and mountains in the country are a testament to its efforts in saving the planet.
At one point France was grappling with rapid industrialization but in the past few years, the country has pointedly prevented the phenomenon to save the environment. France has made several changes in its environmental policies to ensure they align with a positive impact on the environment. At this point, 30% of resources in France are a result of renewable practices. The French government has encouraged clean technology (to meet high demands in agriculture) aided by subsidies. As the country works towards de-industrialization, water pollution has also significantly reduced.
As a country, Denmark’s major goal is to create an environmentally sustainable community. To do so, the country aims at utilising 100% renewable energy by 2050. Sustainable practices in Denmark have led to the country having extremely clean air. Harnessing wind energy on a large scale has been an important step forward for Denmark. They are consistently developing new technologies in wind energy and today almost 40% of the country’s energy is obtained from wind turbines. Contributing to its 2050 goal, by 2020 Denmark aims to get 50% of its energy only from wind.
The cycling culture in Denmark is a welcome relief in the face of toxic emissions by vehicles. It promotes sustainability while also keeping its citizens healthy. Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital has a 400 km stretch of cycle paths, 40% of the city’s population travels by cycle.
A small island with limited resources and a high population density, Malta has still managed to promote and incorporate practices that save the environment. In 2012, the government adopted the Sustainable Development Act; which altered the law allowing sustainable development to become a part of mainstream politics and policies. In 2017, the island began using natural gas as compared to its previous primary source of energy which was heavy fuel oil. Today, 70% of Malta’s energy is obtained from natural gas and other renewable sources.
The country is working towards several sustainable development goals it wants to achieve by 2030, it has also maintained extremely good water quality.
Sweden is developing several technologies to help obtain 100% of its energy from renewable and recycled sources. Cities in the country have pledged to reduce the collective greenhouse gas emissions. Authorities have constructed passive houses to reduce energy consumption. These spaces are low-energy residences that utilise heat energy from human activities, electrical appliances and sunlight to power themselves; an extremely sustainable alternative.
Stockholm Central Station is a passive building that captures the body heat from over 250,000 daily commuters. The country also wants to completely eradicate the use of fossil fuel by 2020. Sweden and its neighbouring countries have teamed up and taken responsibility to protect the Baltic Sea as well as its ecosystem.
Iceland takes environment conservation extremely seriously and has been at the forefront when it comes to implementing eco-friendly programs. Renewable sources like geothermal landscapes are used for the production of electricity and heat. 81% of Iceland’s primary energy needs are met through this. Ocean pollution is kept at bay owing to sustainable fishing practices, ensuring the waters remain clean.
In the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal energy powers most building. Homes, street lights and greenhouses are all powered by geothermal energy. Only 0.1% of the electricity in Iceland is generated from fossil fuels.
Austria has specifically focused on sectors of waste management, chemical and air pollution to stop these pollutants from harming the environment. Economic and social policy is also largely guided by environmental protection measures.
Pesticides are minimally used to improve agricultural practices and measures remain in place to prevent deforestation. Since 2003, Austria has been party to the Aarhus Convention; under this, member states make information available to the public by providing a comprehensive, computer-based information network for the collection of data on environmental protection.
Finland is not just the happiest country in the world; it is also one of the greenest. Despite the past, when Finland was infamous for large amounts of nitrogen emissions and other activities perilous to the environment, it has drastically improved as a nation and helped save the environment.
Government bodies ensure that greenhouses gases are not produced and citizens only utilize renewable sources of energy. Finland also plans to extensively harness wind power for its energy needs in the future; hoping to have more than half of its electricity coming from renewable sources of energy.
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