The UK may be a little late to the party when it comes to environmental awareness and climate change, but some countries clearly lead the way in adopting new, greener practices.
Let’s consider how, with improved knowledge and a social conscience, we can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
Future generations are depending on us to improve our eco-friendly efforts so let’s see what we can learn from other countries when it comes to better environmental, economic and social considerations.
How Eco-friendly Is Iceland?
If you’ve visited Iceland you may be aware what makes in one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world. It uses its natural geothermal and hydro-power to keep homes heated and streets free of ice using renewable energy sources. Its move away from fossil fuels and towards more sustainable energy in the 1970s is a model we should all applaud and seek to emulate.
Sparsely populated and listed by the UN as a “developing country” it was not easy for Iceland to invest in pioneering new United Nations Chronicle when success was not assured. Spurred on by the evidence of shrinking glaciers in their own backyard, Iceland made some tough decisions which are now paying off environmentally and socially.
According to the United Nations Chronicle, the reason for Iceland’s wholehearted support for greener sustainable programmes could be a lesson for us all.
In her article on Iceland’s Sustainable Energy Story, Halla Hrund Logadóttir, explains how,
“Showcasing every step of success is influential. The public participates in a transition that they understand and want. In Iceland, the municipalities that had gained steady access to geothermal hot water became powerful role models for others to do the same.”
“The public participates in a transition that they understand and want.”
Switzerland Is One Of The World’s Most Eco-Friendly Countries
In September 2016, Switzerland made history when it became the first country to vote for implementing a green economy.
New initiatives included a goal to reach OneEarth sustainability by 2050. The OneEarth Initiative is based on achieving ‘100% renewable energy, protection and restoration of 50% of the world’s lands and oceans, and a transition to regenerative, carbon-negative agriculture‘.
Switzerland realised that it could not achieve its desired targets overnight so it got going with its greener, more sustainable objectives immediately.
Waste And Recycling In Switzerland
Another factor that makes Switzerland such an eco friendly country is its exemplary waste recycling system. It boasts one of the highest waste recycling rates in the world – achieving over 50%.
Part of this improvement came by improving separated waste collection, pushing retailers to reduce unnecessary packing, selling produce straight from the shelf and implementing re-usable shopping bags. The country also introduced a levy on bags for household waste, encouraging homeowners to be think twice before throwing out items that could be re-used or recycled.
When it comes to transport, the Swiss are enthusiasts for travel by train and using Mobility for the daily commute. Mobility operates a car rental system similar to city bike rentals. You just pick up a car, drive to your destination and hand it back for someone else to use.
On the power front, Switzerland uses the full gamut of solar and geothermal energy along with heat pumps and wind turbines. However, 56% of its renewable energy comes from hydroelectric power, so all those mountains, lakes and rivers are put to good use.
Eco Costa Rica
Enough of the eco-friendly colder climates; how do sub-tropical countries, particularly those considered less developed, reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change?
Costa Rica is covered in lush tropical rainforest (over 51% or 2.6 million hectares according to CR Forest Information and Data). The main single cause of carbon emissions in Costa Rica is public transport which accounts for 40% according to the National Meteorological Institute).
New plans include changing all buses and taxis to run on electricity by 2050 and building an electric train line connecting 15 neighbourhoods in the capital, San Jose. Commencing in 2022, projections show the train will halve the number of cars in the city.
Other projects include stopping deforestation and expanding Costa Rica’s forests, funded by a tax on fossil fuels. It’s a big vision for a small country that has a population of only 4.6 million and a smaller land area than the U.S. state of West Virginia.
How Eco-Friendly A Country Is Mauritius?
When Mark Twain visited the tropical Indian Ocean island of Mauritius in 1896, he famously said, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and heaven was copied after Mauritius”.
With white sandy beaches, exotic birds and rich marine life Mauritius was a true tropical paradise. Today the Mauritius government is stepping up its actions to ensure the island adopts a green economy to preserve the forests, wildlife and surrounding ocean from environmental decline.
The island has appointed a Youth Environment Council which has increased recycling. It has built an incinerator for toxic and hazardous waste rather than depositing it in the ocean and is targeting a zero plastic policy by 2030. It has also planted three new forests of endemic trees each covering 200-300 hectares.
A new Metro Express will transform local transport along with a fleet of electric buses, sustainable infrastructure and green energy in the cities.
These inspirational eco-friendly countries are setting the standards for the direction that the whole world needs to move in.
Now it’s our turn to see how, as individuals, we can ensure a greener earth for the future. Here are 20 ways you can start to save the planet in 2020
Our recycling efforts, greener transport choices and votes in support of sustainable national policies means we are all responsible for reaching those One Earth objectives together.