Sunday, July 17, 2016

Top Countries Leading the Way in Green Practices

Over the past several years, “going green” has grown from a niche interest to a worldwide mantra. With so much at stake, concerns about the environment are given a spotlight on the world stage. Large countries like the United States and China have garnered plenty of press for steps toward sustainable energy and a greener future. But the truth is that these nations are somewhat lacking in their efforts, while the real front runners are exceeding across the board—not only in sustainable energy initiatives, but also in leadership, investment, and environmental capital.

So which countries are ahead of the game, and why? The Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) measures not only the greenest performance, but the greenest perception, and the disparity between the the two. It ranks based on data spanning four main categories, including Leadership and Climate Change, Efficiency Sectors, Markets and Investment, and Environmental and Natural Capital. These contain sub-categories such as air quality, participation in climate forums, media coverage, sustainable building and transport, tourism, and renewable energy and cleantech investments, among several others.

The latest issue, which was published in 2014, rated these the top countries:


While Germany ranks number one in perception, Sweden actually takes the cake. Consumption of organic foods, sophisticated recycling initiatives, and a high percentage of energy coming from renewable resources show that both citizens and government alike see this as the optimum way of life.


Over 95 percent of Norway’s energy is derived from hydroelectric plants, and it was one of the first countries to install a tax on carbon. Strict zoning laws mean pristine forest and lakes are prevalent. However, the natural gas and oil exportation from Norway are a bit of a blot on its clean reputation.

Costa Rica

This was the first year that Costa Rica was included in this particular study, and it performed very well. The abundance of natural resources and the lack of a major industry allow the country to make the best use of what it’s been given, from solar energy to hydroelectric plants. It faces a large obstacle in the transportation sector, however, which still relies on petroleum.


Yet another Nordic country shines its beacon of environmental friendliness. It’s a top exporter of renewable energy, and 42 percent of the country’s energy comes from wind. Meanwhile, its economy is flourishing in response to green initiatives—yet another benefit of environmentally-forward strategies.


As mentioned, Germany ranked number one in perception, and it’s easy to see why. The Energiewende, or energy transformation, made the price of sustainable energy competitive with fossil fuels. The country is striding toward cutting out nuclear power and carbon emissions and relying on renewable energy instead.

Other Countries of Note

Finland and Iceland scooped the next two spots, but Iceland, along with several other countries, isn’t getting the credit for its high ranking. According the GGEI, it needs to step up its branding efforts if it wants global perception to match its green achievements. Meanwhile, countries with fast-growing economies, including Ghana, Qatar, and Cambodia, ranked poorly. Several developed countries, such as the U.S., Australia, and Japan, have garnered better perceptions than the reality supports and have significant opportunities to improve.

Information provided by our friends at Modernize.

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