Guide to Green Countries

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

A decade ago, a feature on “green" countries would probably have meant an article about territories that have the most trees. Today, a green country is one that is defined as proactively supporting attempts to be carbon neutral and has plans to offset emissions. These are nations that support green living and actively encourage their citizens to be eco-aware.

Right at the top of the pile is Iceland. Despite having volcanoes with difficult to pronounce names (and a tendency to cause major air traffic disruptions), they are leaders in green energy. The geothermal energy that causes volcanoes to erupt is also used to power the nation. Melting glaciers are also used as an energy source. Only eighteen percent of their power is from coal and there are entire cities that have public transport systems that are Hydrogen powered.

Though they are famous for their wines and champagne, the French also have a number of green initiatives that other states could learn from. Homeowners, for example, are incentivised to install solar geysers through grants. France also offers incentives to property owners who choose to build wooden frame as opposed to cement or brick houses. There are also websites such as CitéGreen that reward participants with gifts or special offers for engaging in eco-friendly behavior.

Cuba is yet another nation that has managed to up its green credentials through government lead initiatives. With a strong farming culture, they have made significant changes to their environment by decreasing the use of illegal and harmful pesticides. Though not a wealthy nation, they have seen an increase in the amount of tourists they receive by offering eco-friendly holidays. They rank low on the list of greenhouse gas emitters though it is more by circumstance than by choice. Restrictions on motorised vehicles by government and low industrial output ensure that they pump far fewer toxins into the atmosphere than many nations.

Costa Rica ranks highly on the eco-aware list. It’s an incredibly biodiverse country and those in charge have realised the role they have to play in ensuring that future generations can enjoy these natural wonders. A quarter of the country has been set aside for national parks and they have embarked on a reforestation program. This natural beauty also makes it a prime destination for eco-tourism. As with Cuba, Costa Rica is not traditionally wealthy but local communities have been educated and shown how to practice sustainable lifestyles. From recycling and composting to growing organic gardens, locals have been equipped with the tools and knowledge to ensure a greener future.

Interestingly, some of the wealthiest nations are not in the list of top ten eco-friendly countries. Heavy industrialisation means that any serious attempts to cut emissions could have far-reaching financial effects. The top ten green nations are:

  1. Iceland

  2. Switzerland

  3. Costa Rica

  4. Sweden

  5. Norway

  6. Mauritius

  7. France

  8. Austria

  9. Cuba

  10. Columbia

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