What are the Greenest Countries in the World?

By John Rose, September 16, 2016, Green

I regularly write about the drive towards greener energy and practical green solutions for our everyday lives. And I’m not the only one, as there is an increasing awareness of our impact on the planet at both the individual and legislative levels. So how are we actually doing as a global community with our eco-friendly activities, and who is succeeding the most at truly “going green?”

What are the Greenest Countries in the World? | Bounce Energy Blog

Last year, the United Nations agreed upon 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The aim of these efforts is to improve the life of everyone on planet Earth by tackling poverty and ways to protect our planet. Of these 17 goals, nine are directly related to the environmental health of our planet and the vitality of its ecosystem. More importantly, we can measure the effects of these 9 factors as a way to assess our progress towards becoming a more sustainable culture.

But while the health of the whole planet is important, it’s also rather broad, so the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is published by Yale University every year, and it compares each country and ranks their progress towards green goals. The maximum achievable score is 100, and the lowest is 0. Here we will look at the five greenest countries in the world and look at why they lead the pack.

For the morbid curiosity of my readers, America was 26th with a score of 84.72, and Somalia brought up the rear in 180th place with 27.66.

According to the 2016 EPI Report, here are the scores for the Top Five:

  1. Finland (90.68)
  2. Iceland (90.51)
  3. Sweden (90.43)
  4. Denmark (89.21)
  5. Slovenia (88.98)

1) Finland

What are the Greenest Countries in the World? | Bounce Energy Blog

Finland has excellent and effective environmental legislation and administration, and, as a result, works as a nation to achieve its very ambitious goals. The biggest green policy enacted by the Finnish government is a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050. This has been a huge driver towards the use of alternative energy sources and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

2) Iceland

What are the Greenest Countries in the World? | Bounce Energy Blog

 

The economy of Iceland relies heavily on its natural resources, so it makes sense that they are ready to take action to protect them. One of the greatest areas of improvement in Iceland has been the regulation of the fishing industry. The government introduced fishing quotas based on scientific data on what constituted a sustainable catch, thus allowing fish stocks to recover long-term.

3) Sweden

What are the Greenest Countries in the World? | Bounce Energy Blog

As the the first country to establish an environmental protection agency (in 1967), Sweden also hosted the first UN conference on the environment. So, it should be no surprise they are in the top 5 of the EPI report. It is the overall awareness of and care for the environment that sets Sweden apart. In a 2015 survey across Europe (the Standard Eurobarometer survey), only 6% of people listed the environment and climate change as their main concern, but in Sweden that number was 26%. Sweden is truly committed as a nation to protecting natural resources.

4) Denmark

What are the Greenest Countries in the World? | Bounce Energy Blog

A large proportion of Denmark is farmland, and, as a result, agriculture is one of their biggest pollutants, a problem that the country is tackling head on. The government passed a National Pesticide Act aiming to reduce the pesticide load by 50% – a huge goal. They also plan to be 100% on renewable energy sources by 2050.

5) Slovenia

What are the Greenest Countries in the World? | Bounce Energy Blog

Slovenia has shown a huge improvement in its EPI score, rising 12.15% over the last ten years. Slovenia is literally one of the greenest countries in Europe, with 60% of its surface still covered by forests. One of the ways they have truly embraced the shift to more sustainable living is in the area of green tourism. Their national tourist board even uses a green logo and actively promotes environmentally sustainable destinations.

One of the things the five greenest countries in the world have in common is not just a commitment to the environment – it’s the acknowledgement of where and how they can do better in the future. It is refreshing to examine the detailed policies and reports published by these countries: instead of congratulatory and boasting statements on how far they have come, the focus is always on where they need to go next. Here’s hoping more countries follow this example!

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