Sustainability November 11, 2016
You’ve already heard the argument for climate change: The ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising and the wildfires are spreading. But even as all this is happening, the nation’s President-elect, Donald Trump, argues that climate change is a “hoax” and has chosen a well-known climate change denier, Myron Ebell, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team.
If you haven’t already thought about leaving the country, then perhaps now you’re scrambling to pack your bags. If you’re scared of the upcoming environmental policy changes, then perhaps moving to a green country is your best bet.
To help you make that decision, ENTITY has compiled a list of five of the world’s leading sustainable countries.
If you’re looking to move to a country that’s trying to decrease its carbon emissions, then start packing your bags for Bhutan, which has been hailed as one of the greenest countries on earth because its carbon emissions are so low. The country is officially a “carbon sink,” emitting around 1.5 million tons of carbon a year while its forests absorb over six million tons, says Proudly Carbon Neutral.
And for those of you who are proponents of renewable energy, Bhutan is the only country in the world where renewable energy is the major export. According to OVO Energy, the hilly terrains and swift flowing rivers make it perfectly suited to producing hydroelectric power. Because of this, the country produces more green energy than it needs and it sells the rest to larger countries such as India and Bangladesh. Essentially, the economy is based on creating renewable energy.
If you need another eco-friendly option, Sweden has been making efforts to slow down climate change since 1995 when it became one of the first countries to initiate a carbon tax on carbon-intensive fuels such as oil and natural gas. Thanks to the tax, Sweden’s dependency on fossil fuels has greatly decreased.
But aside from the tax, Sweden is one of the most sustainable countries in the world because of its renewable energy sources, low carbon dioxide emissions and social governance practices. The country, for example, has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions in the housing and service sectors by shifting from oil to district heating. By centralizing the way homes are heated, the main plant can be advanced to use more sustainable forms of fuel.
READ MORE: The Urgency of Change for Global Warming
While the United States argues over climate change, Germany’s renewable electricity generation continues to grow. In 2014, the country’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) was drastically updated and it has since been the driving force behind Energiewende Germany. The goal is essentially to abolish coal and other non-renewable energy sources. And in order to push this initiative, EEG gives renewables a priority and ensures that those investing in renewable energy receive compensation despite electricity prices.
And although parts of Germany have been very industrial, more than 85 percent of the country is forested or farmed because Germans “have long cared about the environment,” says the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, one of the other ways they care for the environment is by having extensive public and bicycle transportation networks, which encourage fossil fuel independence.
Iceland has been revolutionary in transforming its energy system so that 100 percent of its electricity production comes from domestic and renewable hydro- and geothermal resources. According to PR Newswire, fossil fuels are only consumed by the transport and fishing sector.
As the Iceland website details, conserving the environment is a high priority for the country. And because the economy highly depends on fisheries and seafood exports, Iceland is focusing on implementing sustainable harvesting practices. There is now a quota system in fisheries, which limits the total allowable catch at a level that marine scientists deem sustainable.
In addition, the country has low air pollution, high water quality and runs hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses in the capital of Reykjavik, according to Alternet.
More than 20 percent of Denmark’s energy comes from renewable energy and the country currently has goals to reach 100 percent by 2050, according to The Official Website of Denmark. For those wondering how this is done, much of Denmark’s renewable energy comes from wind turbines and the country is a world leader in developing new technology.
And aside from aiming to make Copenhagen a carbon neutral capital by 2025, the country is also well known for its bicycle culture. There are over 390 kilometers (242 miles) of designated bike lanes.
Regardless of which country you choose to move to, at least there you know that you’ll be far away from people who think climate change is “nothing to worry about.”
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