There are a few popular ways that countries aim to target Climate Change and increase their overall sustainability. Some methods include emissions-target legislation, environmental protection, sustainability measures, and more. Typically, to combat Climate Change in a holistic way, countries are encouraged to develop initiatives, programs, funding, and legislation that promote air quality, water and sanitation, biodiversity and habitats, forests, fisheries, energy, economy, and agriculture.
We are about to dive into a few of the most sustainable countries, and how they are combating Climate Change, growing their sustainable practices, and influencing the world.
In 2017, the world’s first industrial-scale carbon-capture plant was opened outside of Zurich, Switzerland. This plant captures the equivalent in CO2 of 200 cars per year (or 900 tons). This development is essential as mitigation for Climate Change needs carbon removal technologies to achieve both zero emissions and negative emissions in the future.
Switzerland has many lakes and waterways, and they have taken great action in improving water quality as much as possible. Switzerland is a great example of a country that invests in technologies to help curb Climate Change and create a more sustainable country in general. Their ARA Bern wastewater treatment plant is one of the most advanced in all of Europe!
2. Costa Rica
This small nation is home to 5% of the world's biodiversity, and 30% of the country's territory is now protected natural land. Costa Rica has dramatically improved its sustainability rating, especially in the tourism and energy sectors.
In the last 30 years, renewable sources such as wind, geothermal, solar, and hydroelectric have produced 93% of Costa Rica's energy, and in July of 2017, they reached a whopping 99%. Written into Costa Rica's environmental policies, they are on track to becoming the very first totally carbon-neutral country in the world.
In 2016, France became the first country to forbid supermarkets from throwing away or destroying good quality unsold food. The law now requires food sellers to donate unsold food to charity or to be used as animal feed.
France is truly a country focused on practical sustainability in energy, materials, and more. It was also the very first country to construct a one-kilometer road made completely from solar panels in the village of Tourouvre-au-Perche, in Normandy.
Denmark has been recognized as a country committed to sustainability. Denmark has focused recently on the impacts of container shipping. The world’s largest container shipping company, Maersk Group, is located in Denmark, which gives them an incentive to focus here on sustainable measures. The Maersk group is now adding ships to their fleet that are some of the most efficient in the world. Their CO2 emissions are 35% less compared to their previous models. Denmark is also developing plans to help the United Nations reach its 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030. Some of these goals include clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible construction and consumption, climate action, and keeping water sources clean.
One example of the way Sweden has had a positive impact on the earth’s environment is by their use of district heating, which is a process of home heating. However, this type of heating is centralized to a town or city. It is similar to the idea of central home heating, only this way, it can provide heat to over 12,000 homes. Sweden made this switch to avoid using excess oil, and instead have focused on renewable energy sources. Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, has implemented a district heating network that heats 90 percent of the apartment blocks in the city and uses “passive houses”, which reduces energy consumption by heating the home with human body heat, electrical appliances, and sunlight.
Sweden has also dedicated funds to sustainable farming efforts, to protect soil quality and the environment from harmful pesticides.
Targeting and combating Climate Change is not an easy challenge. It takes new ideas, innovation, and out-of-the-box thinking. It requires dedication, law-making, and support. Here we discovered a few ways the most sustainable countries in the world are tackling Climate Change. We heard some policies that are in place and goals that have been set to reduce emissions, promote sustainability, and produce more green energy. The future is looking more sustainable, slowly but surely!