Monthly Wrap: Europe’s Most Ecologically Progressive Countries

Philip McHugh September 17th 2021 - 4 minute read

By Currencies Direct on September 17, 2021

Following the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPCS) chilling report –which served as a “code red for humanity” and frequently called a “reality check” – an increasing number of people have become environmentally conscious. Businesses, governments, and household are ‘going green’ whether it’s through recycling, cutting down emissions, or limiting any unnecessary travel.

As a result, anybody thinking of moving or working abroad – or simply curious – will look to the nations leading by example, lowering their carbon footprint or taking up initiatives to achieve zero-carbon emissions by a certain date. After all, the UK is committed to reducing its greenhouse gases by at least 80 percent by 2050, compared to levels in 1990.

So, what are some of the most environmentally progressive nations in the world? Let’s find out.

Austria – the World’s Leader in Environmental Standards

In the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) for 2000, Austria ranked very highly at eighth, just above Ireland and Luxembourg. With an EPI rating of 79.6, Austria is noted to have some of the strictest environmental standards in Europe, particularly for waste management i.e. chemicals and air pollution.

Agricultural regulations are also tight on pesticides and fertilizers, meaning you will get some of the freshest and most untainted fruit and vegetables in Europe. Drinking water is also extremely high thanks to low pollution levels, with the EPI reading at a whopping 100.

According to Vienna Convention Bureau, Vienna – Austria’s capital city – is also one of the world’s most greenest cities. In an article called ‘Vienna is the world’s greenest city’, they explain:

‘The ranking was based on a range of criteria including availability of greens spaces, use of renewable energy, use of public transportation, pedestrian-friendliness, recycling infrastructure, water consumption, air quality and the number of local markets.’

‘In Vienna’s case, the high proportion of green spaces (almost 50% of the total area) and widespread use of the public transportation network were singled out for particular mention.’

As a result of its stringent and strict rules on environmental practices, Austria is likely to be a leading beacon for environmentally-conscious nations in the challenging years ahead.

France – World’s Fifth Most Eco-Friendly Nation

Despite being one of Europe’s most densely populated Countries, France’s EPI score was high – 80 – making it fifth in the world for eco-friendliness.

World Population Review commented: ‘France has a perfect 100 for water sanitation and pollution emissions. The country also ranks fourth for climate change and fifth for biodiversity. France has several environmental initiatives in place, such as using hydro turbines along its rivers and banning its supermarkets from throwing or destroying good quality unsold food.’

Also a pioneering nation for eco-friendly holidays and sustainable tourism, France aims to promote local crafts and heritage. For instance, Britanny has 1,700 km of coastline and three regional national parks, along with 20 green stations and 34 blue flag beaches. In 2021, Britanny was listed amongst the top 100 most sustainable holiday destinations.

Sweden – ‘Green Homes’ and Recyclable District Heating Technologies

While Sweden ranks just below Finland at 78.7 on the EPI score, it is one of the fastest growing green nations, known for its renewable energy sources and remarkably low carbon dioxide emissions. The Swedish-American Umgas Magazine, comments:

‘Environmental studies consistently list Sweden as a top eco-friendly country, with some calling it the “world’s most sustainable nation.’

‘Sweden didn’t tackle climate change and human wastefulness overnight. Gradual changes in city infrastructure, which encouraged and provided the opportunity for individual, household and citywide sustainability, have continued to clean Sweden since the 1990s.’

Swedish cities use a highly cost-effective and efficient modes of centralised district hearing, allowing power plants to use recyclable and industrial heat – a relatively new green technology – that spreads across a wide network homes and apartments. As a result, Sweden benefits from low greenhouse gas emissions. ‘Green homes’ are also becoming more popular, with urban gardening and recycling fast becoming a common practice.

Switzerland – One of the World’s Most Green Nations

Switzerland made history back in 2016 by being the first country to vote for implementing a green economy. One of these initiatives was to reach ‘OneEarth’ sustainability by 2050, based on a goal of ‘100% renewable energy, protection and restoration of 50% of the world’s lands and oceans, and a transition to regenerative, carbon-negative agriculture.’

World Population Review explains:

‘Switzerland is the third-most eco-friendly nation in the world. With an EPI of 81.5, Switzerland has high rankings for environmental health, sustainability, water sanitation, and water resources. Switzerland’s public sector is increasingly requiring eco-friendly and resource-friendly products. The country is also one of the top recyclers in the world.’

So, it’s little wonder why Switzerland is always voted as one of the world’s most green and ecologically progressive nations.

Not only is it environmentally friendly, but Switzerland also boasts some of cleanest water in the world, with drinking water straight out of the taps being as pure as bottled mineral water – as well as being a great deal cheaper. Boating a vast range of biodiversity in forms of forest, vehicle fuels and environmentally-conscious businesses, Switzerland will likely remain the model nation when it comes to ‘going green’.

All of the nations in this article are advancing and evolving to meet targets. And with the UN report sending shockwaves throughout the world, it will be France, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria who are likely to lead by example in the years ahead. So, if you want to move to an eco-friendlier nation, then any one of these countries would be a great way to get involved in making our world greener and more carbon-neutral.

Written by
Philip McHugh

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