As every environmentalist knows, we’re in this together. Nations delineate geographic boundaries, set personal economic laws, and retain unique cultures, but no human institution can refute the fact that everyone shares the earth. Factories in Michigan affect the air in Australia; logging in the Congo ripples eco systems as far away as Russia. Every country sets its own environmental laws and guidelines, but their choices are part of a global practice. For every nation to be ecologically accountable to every citizen of earth is daunting. Fortunately, many countries pursue eco friendly living. Understanding their responsibility to better all parts of the earth, these international governments are doing their utmost to preserve everyone’s planet.
- Iceland. Earlier this decade green leaders decided the world needed an environmental version of the GDP. They created the less reliable but still significant Environmental Performance Index. In the years since, their global analyses have consistently rated Iceland at or near the top. By relying heavily on geothermal energy, the country is one of the least coal-dependent places on earth. Its volcanic activity, of course, gives it an advantage in this, but Icelandic citizens have independently pursued eco friendly living too. Conserving resources and sometimes going so far as to build subterranean homes, this Nordic nation leads the world in eco consciousness.
- Germany. Though it doesn’t reside quite so close to the top of the EPI scale, Germany is a leader in what’s already the most environmentally friendly region in the world: Europe. The continent as a whole pursues eco friendly living more ardently than anywhere else, but Germany’s commitment to environmental sanctions and alternative energy sources outperforms its neighbors. Especially considering its GDP, the nation is a global leader. By monitoring pesticides, controlling emissions, and lowering soot levels in its major cities, the German government avoids the environmental failings that mark many of the world’s richest nations.
- Sweden. This Scandinavian nation began to care about its environment long before global warming and pollution became such blaring problems. The 1980 fuel crisis drove Sweden to adopt numerous eco friendly living practices, pursuing alternative energy sources in nuclear and hydropower systems. The nation has set a plan for all of its homes to be fuel-free by 2020, something few countries have ever even considered. Through strict environmental standards and heavy taxation on less green energy sources, the Swedish government has one of the longest and best environmental records in the world.
- Costa Rica. Eco friendly living isn’t just a concern or priority for the wealthiest nations. Many richer nations continue to rank poorer than Costa Rica on the EPI scale—due mainly to a number of policy changes in recent years. Like most developing Central American countries, Costa Rica has a history of cashing in its rainforests for a quick buck. Fortunately, that didn’t last long. The nation began to severely limit its logging and to enforce conservation legislature. Preserving its natural beauty, Costa Rica has gone even further and become a leader in its economic class. Like Sweden, it’s using more alternative energy sources and placing restrictions on industrial emissions. It hopes to abolish all industrial carbon emissions within the decade, which would skyrocket the country above even the wealthiest in the world.