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Top 10 greenest countries

Business Chief takes a closer look at the top 10 most environmentally friendly countries, based from The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2018 findings.

10 | Finland (78.64)

Though Finland ranks at the bottom of our top 10, it has the highest rank for environmental health in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). There are countless sustainability initiatives that are taking place across the country to preserve Finland’s naturally luscious land. Some of these include the Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association; Green Key Finland, which has been awarded to over 70 environmentally aware companies within the tourism industry and ECEAT (European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism), which develops and promotes tourism that supports organic agriculture and sustainable land use.

9 | Ireland (78.77)

Ireland is currently halfway to meeting its set target of 16% of all of its energy needs by 2020, as outlined in the Renewable Energy Directive 2009. It also has a target of producing 42.5% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. According to Eirgrid, it already has 32%.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment reported that to date, Ireland has a wind capacity of 2,851 MW. Ireland’s 2020 target was divided into sectors, with 12% of renewable energy attributing the heat sector. The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat was put in place to support commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating, public sector and other non-domestic heat users, and excluding Non-Emissions Trading (non-ETS) sector.

8 | Austria (78.97)

In The Renewable Energy Directive 2009, Austria’s allocated target was 34% of the share of energy generated from renewable sources in gross final energy consumption. Output of renewable energy currently stands at 32.5%.

According to Invest in Austria (ABA), Austria has 700 run-of-river power plants and 3,100 small-scale hydropower stations in operation, generating about 60% of Austria’s electricity needs. Austria also has considerable funding to encourage institutions to use green energy, as the Green Electricity Act 2012 doubled funding to US$55.7mn.

7 | Luxembourg (79.12)

Luxembourg’s renewable energy comes from hydropower, wind, biomass and solar power.

The National Renewable Energy Action Plan reports that Luxembourg has the second smallest projection for increase in renewable energy with just 12% by 2020.

Luxembourg supports the production of electricity by offering three types of remuneration. Feed-in tariffs are available to inhabitants, and can be organised with a network manager. Civil or cooperative companies. Market premiums can only be entered into with a network manager if the production capacity is at least 500 kW. Calls for tender which are limited to photovoltaic installations with a power output of at least 500 kW and at most 5 MW.

6 | United Kingdom (79.89)

The United Kingdom ranks in sixth place, with almost one third of power coming from renewable energy. The 2009 EU Renewable Directive established a target of 15% reduction of energy consumption for the UK by 2020.

According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, renewable energy accounts for 30% of the total electricity in the UK, with the largest contributing power being wind energy (13.8), overtaking coal, oil and other power by 6.5%.

5 | Sweden (80.51)

Sweden has one of the largest energy consumptions per capita, but Swedish carbon emissions are incredibly low compared to other countries. This is because 80% of electricity production in Sweden comes from nuclear and hydroelectric power.

Sweden's voluminous supply of biomass and moving water contributes to its high supply of renewable energy. Sweden has long surpassed the government's 2020 goal of 50% renewable energy, as it achieved this back in 2012. Today, more than half of the energy in Sweden comes from renewable sources. The country aims to have 100% renewable electricity production by 2040.

4 | Malta (80.90)

Malta ranks well in the top green countries because it does not have domestic resources of fossil fuels and gas distribution. In the Renewable Energy Directive 2009, the EU set Malta's target of renewable energy at 10% by 2020.

Malta is on track to meet the 2020 goal, and has a number of open schemes open to help combat this such as the Feed-in Tariff scheme, Photovoltaic Grant scheme, Solar Water Heater scheme, and the Heat Pump Water Heater scheme.

3 | Denmark (81.60)

The government has shared its plans to become 100% reliable on renewable energy sources by 2050. Currently 39% of electricity is from renewable energy. Denmark's flat land makes it particularly viable for wind power. Its long coastline also presents potential for wave energy to become a part of the country’s 2050 goal. According to Risø-DTU, the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, to achieve this ambitious plan, annual energy consumption needs to decrease by 1-3% annually.

2 | France (83.95)

In 2016, France unveiled a 1km solar panel road in Tourouvre-au-Perche, which produced enough power to light the streets of the village. In the same year the country was the first to ban supermarkets from destroying unsold edible food. Food just outside of its sell-by date must now be donated to charities or used for animal feed.

In October 2018, the French energy group Engie received permission to build two offshore wind projects off of Noirmoutier and Île d’Yeu islands. The project should double France's wind power by 2023. Major projects include city-wise speed limits of 30km across non major roads by 2020, and removing diesel cars from the roads by 2024, and petrol cars by 2030.

1 | Switzerland (87.42)

Switzerland scored the highest of all the countries in the Environmental Performance Index.

In 2017 Switzerland was one of the top five fastest countries to adapt the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. In 2017 Capturing Carbon opened and the plant directly removes Carbon Dioxide from the air and delivered to a greenhouse containing some 250,000 plants. This will help Switzerland to achieve its UN objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20–30% by 2020.

Zurich was named the most sustainable city by the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index

This was largely credited to the city's plan to become more sustainable by becoming a  2000-watt society by 2050.

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10 | Finland (78.64)

Though Finland ranks at the bottom of our top 10, it has the highest rank for environmental health in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). There are countless sustainability initiatives that are taking place across the country to preserve Finland’s naturally luscious land. Some of these include the Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association; Green Key Finland, which has been awarded to over 70 environmentally aware companies within the tourism industry and ECEAT (European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism), which develops and promotes tourism that supports organic agriculture and sustainable land use.

9 | Ireland (78.77)

Ireland is currently halfway to meeting its set target of 16% of all of its energy needs by 2020, as outlined in the Renewable Energy Directive 2009. It also has a target of producing 42.5% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. According to Eirgrid, it already has 32%.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment reported that to date, Ireland has a wind capacity of 2,851 MW. Ireland’s 2020 target was divided into sectors, with 12% of renewable energy attributing the heat sector. The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat was put in place to support commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating, public sector and other non-domestic heat users, and excluding Non-Emissions Trading (non-ETS) sector.

8 | Austria (78.97)

In The Renewable Energy Directive 2009, Austria’s allocated target was 34% of the share of energy generated from renewable sources in gross final energy consumption. Output of renewable energy currently stands at 32.5%.

According to Invest in Austria (ABA), Austria has 700 run-of-river power plants and 3,100 small-scale hydropower stations in operation, generating about 60% of Austria’s electricity needs. Austria also has considerable funding to encourage institutions to use green energy, as the Green Electricity Act 2012 doubled funding to US$55.7mn.

7 | Luxembourg (79.12)

Luxembourg’s renewable energy comes from hydropower, wind, biomass and solar power.

The National Renewable Energy Action Plan reports that Luxembourg has the second smallest projection for increase in renewable energy with just 12% by 2020.

Luxembourg supports the production of electricity by offering three types of remuneration. Feed-in tariffs are available to inhabitants, and can be organised with a network manager. Civil or cooperative companies. Market premiums can only be entered into with a network manager if the production capacity is at least 500 kW. Calls for tender which are limited to photovoltaic installations with a power output of at least 500 kW and at most 5 MW.

6 | United Kingdom (79.89)

The United Kingdom ranks in sixth place, with almost one third of power coming from renewable energy. The 2009 EU Renewable Directive established a target of 15% reduction of energy consumption for the UK by 2020.

According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, renewable energy accounts for 30% of the total electricity in the UK, with the largest contributing power being wind energy (13.8), overtaking coal, oil and other power by 6.5%.

5 | Sweden (80.51)

Sweden has one of the largest energy consumptions per capita, but Swedish carbon emissions are incredibly low compared to other countries. This is because 80% of electricity production in Sweden comes from nuclear and hydroelectric power.

Sweden's voluminous supply of biomass and moving water contributes to its high supply of renewable energy. Sweden has long surpassed the government's 2020 goal of 50% renewable energy, as it achieved this back in 2012. Today, more than half of the energy in Sweden comes from renewable sources. The country aims to have 100% renewable electricity production by 2040.

4 | Malta (80.90)

Malta ranks well in the top green countries because it does not have domestic resources of fossil fuels and gas distribution. In the Renewable Energy Directive 2009, the EU set Malta's target of renewable energy at 10% by 2020.

Malta is on track to meet the 2020 goal, and has a number of open schemes open to help combat this such as the Feed-in Tariff scheme, Photovoltaic Grant scheme, Solar Water Heater scheme, and the Heat Pump Water Heater scheme.

3 | Denmark (81.60)

The government has shared its plans to become 100% reliable on renewable energy sources by 2050. Currently 39% of electricity is from renewable energy. Denmark's flat land makes it particularly viable for wind power. Its long coastline also presents potential for wave energy to become a part of the country’s 2050 goal. According to Risø-DTU, the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, to achieve this ambitious plan, annual energy consumption needs to decrease by 1-3% annually.

2 | France (83.95)

In 2016, France unveiled a 1km solar panel road in Tourouvre-au-Perche, which produced enough power to light the streets of the village. In the same year the country was the first to ban supermarkets from destroying unsold edible food. Food just outside of its sell-by date must now be donated to charities or used for animal feed.

In October 2018, the French energy group Engie received permission to build two offshore wind projects off of Noirmoutier and Île d’Yeu islands. The project should double France's wind power by 2023. Major projects include city-wise speed limits of 30km across non major roads by 2020, and removing diesel cars from the roads by 2024, and petrol cars by 2030.

1 | Switzerland (87.42)

Switzerland scored the highest of all the countries in the Environmental Performance Index.

In 2017 Switzerland was one of the top five fastest countries to adapt the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. In 2017 Capturing Carbon opened and the plant directly removes Carbon Dioxide from the air and delivered to a greenhouse containing some 250,000 plants. This will help Switzerland to achieve its UN objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20–30% by 2020.

Zurich was named the most sustainable city by the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index

This was largely credited to the city's plan to become more sustainable by becoming a  2000-watt society by 2050.

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