More and more nations around the globe are becoming deeply involved with sustaining the Earth, and taking steps to conserve what resources we have left. For many environmentally-friendly people and countries, it’s a natural instinct to preserve our planet in order to ensure that generations to come will be able to survive.
Each year, Yale University determines the greenest countries of the world based on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a ranking system that rates countries based on their environmental performance. The following countries are the top seven for 2012.
1. Switzerland: Home to some of the most fragile ecosystems in the world,Switzerland’s valleysnd Alpine mountains contain unique ecologies such as plants not found at lower altitudes. These ecosystems are particularly sensitive to climate change, so the nation of Switzerland demonstrates a strong commitment to green living by making it a priority in policy making. Many of these policies are enforced throughout the country and are directlytailored toencourage citizens to adopt healthy green living. For example, the government charges for waste disposal, thus encouraging citizens to recycle. And, the restrictionof car use motivates citizens to use public transport, walk or cycle.
2. Latvia: This Eastern European country recently launched a national campaign encouraging its citizens to become more eco-friendly. Asking “Latvia – the greenest country in the world?” the campaign recognizes that Latvia’s abundant resources, while precious and fulfilling, are not going to last forever. The country is committed to integrating the environment in governmental policy in the years to come, and recently took part in project Clean Drive – a campaign to promote cleaner vehicles in Europe.
3. Norway: Norway encouragesits citizens to become carbon neutral and has set a deadline to achieve a nation-wide target by 2030. The government toggles price strategies to encourage citizens to reconsider their resource consumption and practices that could cause damage to the environment. Given its location near the icecaps, it’s no surprise that Norway wants to protect itself from impending doom.
4. Luxembourg: This small country is investing large amounts of research into managing waste and alternative methods of energy production. The government of Luxembourg also promoteseco-friendly living through a national resource center for environmental technologies.
5. Costa Rica: Like Norway, Costa Rica is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2021 and invests a lot of research and money in renewable energy resources. Costa Rica’s deforestation practices have gone against their eco-friendly policies, but the government has planted five million trees over the past few years to make up for it.
6. France: France has scored high on the EPI index by encouraging citizens to use eco fuels, enforcing policies that conserve energy, promoting an increase of renewable energy, recycling materials and increasing organic farming.
7. Austria: With a tiny landmass containing 46% forested land, preserving the tranquil beauty of Austria and living in harmony with nature is a must. Austria’s government recognizes that by making sustainable livinga necessity. The government plays a critical role in enforcing nation-wide standards that must be upheld. Austria produces more than half its energy by hydropower, together with wind, solar and biomass power plants.