In order to assess a nation’s ‘green’ contribution to the planet, a formula known as the Environmental Performance Index, or EPI is used. As of 2012, here are the top ten countries that are doing their best to promote and incentivise green energy in a bid to change the world.
With an EPI rating of 93.5 from a possible 100, Iceland tops the list of green countries from around the globe. The key to that success lies not only in government initiatives but also in the fascinating natural landscape that makes Iceland ideal for developing renewable energy.
The country uses its geo-thermal backdrop of glaciers, volcanoes and other natural features to create natural energy and heat and there have been many fascinating innovations such as a fleet of buses that run entirely on hydrogen. At one stage, Iceland imported coal to form 70% of its energy but all that has changed now as renewable power dominates to provide 82% of the country’s fuel resources.
Switzerland came top of the green pile in 2008 but since then has lost its title to Iceland. However, it still achieves an EPI rating of 89.1 thanks to its many positive initiatives.
The Swiss have been at the forefront of the green movement since 1914 when the first Alpine Park was introduced. They charge for water supply and for using waste management systems.
Local businesses have joined in the promotions too and in Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz, guests are given a discount if they arrive in a hybrid car.
3. Costa Rica
The nation of Costa Rica not only has a respectable EPI rating of 86.4, it aims to become entirely carbon neutral by 2021. Five per cent of the world’s total biodiversity can be found here while 80 per cent of the country is now using hydroelectric power.
Costa Rica has had issues with deforestation for many years but there is now a move to address this by using sustainable timber and thereby decreasing greenhouse gases at the same time.
Sweden’s EPI rating currently stands at 86.0 and it has achieved this, in part, by moves that promise to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels by 2020. In the present day, much of the country’s power is generated from nuclear or hydroelectric sources while many cars run on ethanol or animal waste.
Sweden are also looking at harnessing wave power, which produces four times as much energy as solar sources over the same periods of time.
Norway’s EPI rating is 81.1 and it is also aiming to be carbon neutral, although their target date comes after Costa Rica in 2030.
In the future, it also hopes to eliminate greenhouse gases altogether but this is a big ask considering how many offshore oil rigs Norway is responsible for. However, it has already introduced measures to achieve this including more use of the railway network and punitive measures for those who continue to use oil and diesel.
The tiny island of Mauritius is a relatively new addition to the list but with an EPI rating of 80.6, it has done much in recent years to put itself on the green list. The nation now burns much of its waste which doesn’t sound like a green move but until recently, Mauritius had a real problem with storing or dumping its rubbish.
It has also entered into productive schemes that produce much of its energy from wind power and from its large sugar cane industry
France is another country where its renewable energy proposals seemed a little hopeful but it has made great strides and comes in with an EPI rating of 78.2. Outgoing President Sarkozy had been pushing for continued changes to legislation and the world waits to see if the green baton will be taken up by his successor Francois Hollande.
In the present day, 78% of France’s energy comes from nuclear power and that has helped to reduce hazardous emissions by 70%.
With an EPI of 78.1, Austria may have some catching up to do but nobody can deny that it is one of the most innovative countries when it comes to green initiatives. At the Winter Olympics of 2010, committee members and journalists were accommodated in a ‘passive house’ which generated heat as and when needed thanks to extremely ingenious technology.
The country has also planted a self-dependent garden along with the Czech Republic which uses no pesticides and harnesses only natural compost and rainwater to grow.
This is another country whose inclusion may come as a surprise to many but the government has introduced a number of schemes to boost its EPI rating up to 78.1.
Cuba’s real efforts come in reclaiming disused farmland in an effort to become less reliant on imported goods. It has brought derelict farms back to life, decreased the use of pesticides and vowed only to grow organic crops.
The Cuban government has even lowered the sea level so that adjacent soil isn’t ruined by the salt water.
News stories concerning Colombia are seldom of the good kind and the green agenda has been hit in the past by widespread deforestation. The country however is an important centre for many rare animal species and the government has started to face up to its responsibilities in this respect.
Vast sanctuaries are being set up across Colombia and in other initiatives; architects have started to abandon steel in favour of bamboo which is said to be just as durable. All of these measures combine to give the country its current EPI rating of 76.8.
The post was written by Paul Smith Commercial Director of Ecocleen Cleaning Services Ltd. Ecocleen are an eco-friendly cleaning services company who offer bespoke contract cleaning. Visit them at http://eslsolutions.co.uk/