Environment

Which countries did the most for the environment this year?

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Switzerland

Image: Flickr

Protecting the environment is an issue that every country in the world struggles with in one way or another. Even countries that can’t afford to invest as much into things like alternative energy research have to struggle with the realities of depleted oceans or natural resources. But some countries definitely do more than others with their policies to protect the environment. So, which countries did the most for the environment this year?

France

France, like the rest of Western Europe, is doing a lot to help prevent environmental damage. In addition to policies designed to help avoid local water and air pollution, France’s most ambitious program might be a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75%. In addition, much of France’s domestic energy production comes from alternative energies rather than harmful coal-burning power plants. And in what might be the boldest stroke for environmentalism this year, France has pledged to shut down all coal-burning plants in the next six years.

And of course, Paris was the site where a groundbreaking agreement to cap emissions was signed this year.

Finland

Finland consistently ranks among the most ecologically friendly countries in the world. This is because Finland pursues aggressive environmental policies in all sectors of the economy. Finland’s regulations on everything from agriculture to forestry to industrial manufacturing are some of the most stringent in the world.

Finland is the most heavily forested country in Europe, and the rate of growth in Finland’s forests are enough to match the rate at which companies are allowed to log them.

The greatest issues facing Finland are the same as many Western countries: runoff from agriculture, industry, and CO2 emissions.

Sweden

Sweden has been called the “most sustainable country in the world.”  Sweden occupies a large part of Scandinavia and the natural beauty of its cold, northern environment is something the government wants to protect. Like other developed nations, Sweden struggles with a relatively high level of carbon emissions and resource consumption per capita.

But in a country the size of California, only three percent of the landscape is home to human urban habitation. An enormous 69% of Sweden is covered in dense Baltic forest, though continued logging is a source of concern.

However, Sweden is very progressive when it comes to environmental policy. Sweden’s policies have reduced the amount of waste going to landfills to a mere 1%, which is a good sign for the future.

Switzerland

Switzerland is another country that ranks among the most sustainable. It’s a country with some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the world, nestled among valleys in the Alps. Switzerland is also one of the richest countries in the world with a strong tradition of democratic government. Switzerland aims to protect its way of life with strict environmental laws designed to defend its natural splendor.

Switzerland is unique among many countries in the world in that the anti-climate change initiatives within the country have largely come from private industries and individuals, which have taken the burden of limiting CO2 emissions on themselves.

In addition, Switzerland’s policies have reduced the level of local pollution within the country dramatically.

Wyatt is a writer and your friend. You can follow him on Twitter @WyattRedd.