The climate change conference held in Paris in 2015 was an eye opener in terms of understanding the effect that carbon emissions seem to be having on Earth’s temperature. In this conference, 195 nations made a commitment to lower greenhouse gas emissions. This seems to be a start of a green initiative. It has been actively endorsed by governments of many countries of the world. Many countries are taking eco-friendly measures to ensure a greener future for their citizens.
A closer look
Yale University has been conducting an annual survey on the Environmental performance of each country since 2015. The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks countries’ performance on criteria such as water resources, air quality, bio-diversity and habitat. But, from all these criteria, the highest priority is given to two, they are: protection of human health and protection of ecosystems.
The rankings are prioritized into two categories: Environmental health and Ecosystem vitality. Environmental Health includes risks regarding the air quality and a check on air pollution. Water and Sanitation is also included in the study. It includes the analysis of water along with other sanitation conditions. The ecosystem vitality, on the other hand, includes a study and analysis of water resources, agriculture, nitrogen balance and efficiency. It also looks at the worldwide state of forests and changes in forest covers and fisheries and fish stocks. Special focus is given to protection of species -both terrestrial and marine.
Europe leads the way
The list of greenest countries in the world was released in 2016. Unsurprisingly, Europe leads the way. Finland was voted the World’s greenest country and nine out of the top ten countries were European. Only Costa Rica, which ranked third on the list is not a European nation.
The top ten are: Finland, Norway, Costa Rica, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Iceland and Spain. European cities, unsurprisingly lead the list of greenest cities with Copenhagen in first place, followed by Amsterdam and Stockholm. After them, Vancouver and London hold the fourth and the fifth place respectively. The United States comes in at twenty- six though New York City is at number seven in the list of cities.
FINLAND: A model example
Finland has been voted the world’s greenest country. And if you’ll take a look at the long terms aims and the present developments of the nation then this won’t surprise you. The country’s government is committed to reducing carbon emissions. It hopes to achieve a carbon neutral society in the near future. Already nearly two-thirds of the entire nation’s electricity is produced from renewable or nuclear power sources.
The Finns have become pioneers in the use of natural materials like wood. This doesn’t come as a surprise as Finland has the most forest land per capita than any other nation. So, Finland is leading its way towards more sustainable energy production. Another area of expertise that they have is that of waste management and recycling.
Despite the fact that many nations have increased their focus towards a sustainable future many countries are taking eco-friendly measures for tackling their problems. Still there are some statistics that are very hard to read and that should concern all of us.
A staggering three and a half billion people and more – half of the world’s population is living in nations with unsafe air quality. For example India sits at an incredibly low rank of 178(out of a total of 180 nations) with horrible air quality. Surprisingly, one and a half billion Indian people breathe in toxic air.
Around two and a half billion people lack access to sanitation and although the number of people lacking access to clean water has been cut nearly in half since 2000. Still around half a billion people lack the access to clean water.