Green Countries That Might Surprise You


Talking about “going green” and “saving the earth” is far easier than actually doing something about it, but happily countries around the world are flexing their environmental muscle and showing others how it should be done.


China emits less carbon than the United States, though it has four times as many people. Its ordinance against free plastic bags has shown to be effective: According to research from the University of Gothenburg, China reduced its consumption of plastic bags by half when stores were forced to charge consumers.


Despite the rapid deforestation around the world (recent satellite imagery shows that Malaysia is destroying forests three times faster than all of Asia combined), one country’s forests are doing just fine: According to, Finland’s forests are now growing at a faster rate than they are being deforested.


Ranked #2 on Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index, Switzerland has tough legislation against pollution, which includes charging for their water and waste management service. In addition, Switzerland has severe environmental taxes, which give citizens incentive to uphold the environmental law. Some cities are even carless!


This tiny island country of only 300,000 people has shown that big things come in small packages. Iceland plans to cut itself off from dependence on fossil fuels by 2050. The country's capital, Reykjavik, gets its energy for heat, hot water, and electricity entirely from hydropower and geothermal resources, which are renewable and free of greenhouse gases. Three Reykjavik city buses even run on hydrogen.


This Scandinavian country is home to the world’s largest solar production plant. The country plans on becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and has funded green projects intended to reducing the amount of driving and flying. Norway is also focused on utilizing its railroads more and finding an alternative source for fuel. In order to add an incentive against using diesel fuel, people will have to pay a higher fee for it.

--Submitted by Field Reporter Lynda Lopez