Although climate change affects every corner of the planet, not all countries are active and involved enough to mitigate its potentially catastrophic effects. Below is a list of nations working the hardest to keep the Earth healthy and green (source: Condé Nast Traveler).
On June 1, President Donald Trump announced that the United States will pull out of the Paris Agreement, a 2015 deal to curb carbon emissions, invest in green technology, and take other steps to combat the existential threat of climate change. Following the announcement, countries like France and Canada reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement, while more than 80 mayors of cities across the U.S. announced they would continue to follow the guidelines agreed upon two years ago. With President Trump’s decision, the United States joins a small club: Nicaragua and Syria are the only other countries not a part of the Paris Agreement.
As the U.S. retreats from its commitments, other parts of the world continue to lead the way toward a greener future. Counting down from 13, these are the top-performing countries, according to the 2017 Climate Change Performance Index, an annual study from the think tank Germanwatch and the Climate Action Network Europe, which looks at how the world’s top 58 carbon emitters—together responsible for 90 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions–are taking on climate change. Eco-travelers take note: These places deserve your tourist dollars this year.
After leading the rankings for five consecutive years, Denmark slipped significantly in the latest index, in part, the researchers say, due to a reversal of a number of environmentally friendly policies. The country is still among the better performing nations when it comes to saving the planet, but policy changes like a decision to invest in highways rather than electrified railroads (as the government had previously promised) means it took a hit this year. As pressure from environmentally-minded citizens heats up, expect one or two more vandalized statues.
Overall, as this list will show, the European Union is a good place for you to settle down if environmental-friendliness is part of your criteria—and as the headquarters of the EU, Belgium has a duty of sorts to lead by example. Coordination between a complicated federal political system divided by regions is a challenge, but the country as a whole is committed to the EU’s target to cut 1990 carbon emission levels by 20 percent by 2020—and has started by shutting down the last of its coal-powered power plants.
Just seven years ago, Portugal was hit by an economic recession that led to record unemployment. As part of its recovery, the country put into place progressive policies that encouraged local arts and rejuvenated its decaying architecture. Along with a focus on the country’s creatives, the Portuguese government has also focused on creating green jobs and revamping its energy system—and it’s paid off. A government-led “Commitment to Green Growth” sees the country promoting the “low-carbon economy” and investing in sustainability efforts across industries and territories; policies which helped Portugal jump up seven spots year-over-year in the index.
See the full list HERE.