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The 5 countries that stand out with #sustainability in 2017

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by: Hans van der Broek
The 5 countries that stand out with #sustainability in 2017

In the area of ​​sustainability, a lot has happened worldwide in the past year, but a number of countries received extra attention in 2017. Costa Rica spent 300 days on sustainable electricity, France comes with far-reaching legislation and China gets the largest solar park.

South Australia solar park with 3.4 million solar panels
Perhaps it is because Australia experiences the human influence on the climate with the hole in the ozone layer nearby, but the country stands out for its sustainable solutions.
Australia has the first with the first train that runs entirely on solar energy and with the opening of a research hub, the country will explore the possibilities of sustainable wood in construction. The country will soon open the highest wooden office building in the world.
In South Australia there will be a solar park with no less than 3.4 million solar panels. This park is equipped with the world's largest battery. Energy storage is essential for the successful implementation of renewable energy, but Australia will have no problems with that.
The country has the ability to store 1,000 times as much renewable energy as it will ever need, say researchers at the Australian National University (ANU), by using pumping stations.

Costa Rica
Santa ana Coste Rica wind turbines
Central American Costa Rica may not be a striking choice in a list of sustainable countries, as the Costa Rican government announced in 2007 that it would be the first climate-neutral country in the world by 2021.
In order to do that, the country must of course take steps and that is what it does. For example, Costa Rica is the first country in the world to ban disposable plastic. The country wants to banish disposable cutlery, bags, bottles and other single-use plastic products within four years.
The country is also investigating, together with KLM, the possibilities to fly from San José, the capital of Costa Rica, with sustainable biofuels. With this they hope to reduce CO2 emissions. Finally, the country has been running on sustainable electricity for three hundred consecutive days in 2017. Perhaps 2018 will be the year in which the country runs on sustainable energy throughout the year?


France has introduced legislation just before the end of this year which should lead to France no longer producing oil or gas in 2040, both on its own land and in overseas territories. The French government is also the first to issue green bonds.
The ban on the production of oil and gas is a milestone, but largely symbolic, because France mainly imports oil and gas and the country does not stop. From 2040 the country will introduce a ban on new cars with combustion engines in 2040.
Yet the country is especially notable for the new CEO: Emmanuel Macron. The French president this year organized an extra Climate Summit in honor of the two-year jubilee of the Climate Summit in Paris and reacted strongly in a video message to the decision of Trump to step out of the Climate Agreement: "Whoever and wherever we are, we all carry same responsibility: make our planet great again."

China solar panels in a river Hong Kong
China has a problem: currently the air in 90 percent of Chinese cities is polluted. The country now seems to be aware of the fact that change is needed and launches various sustainable initiatives. For example, Ma Jun, special adviser to the Governor of the People's Bank of China, points out that 2 percent of Chinese bonds are green, while in the total bond market this percentage is 0.2 percent. This year the first Chinese green association received a CBI certification.
The Chinese government also has no problems with compelling companies to sustainability with legislation. Since 2018, the country wants all listed companies and organizations issuing bonds to report on the impact of climate change on their operations. The Chinese government wants to make this mandatory from 2020 onwards.
To improve the situation in cities, the country is deploying buildings with vertical forests and the Chinese metropolis Shenzhen is switching to full electric bus transport. The country also invests in sustainable energy, the country owns the largest, floating solar park in the world and, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), is the driving force behind the rise of wind energy.

United Kingdom
Tidal energy United Kingdom
The Brexit seems to have little influence on the sustainability plans of the United Kingdom. On the contrary, the country stands out by one sustainable announcement after another. From the opening of a large solar park that has been established without government funding to set up a task force to encourage green investments. It also considers new levies on plastic for single use. 'The United Kingdom is the world leader in the combination of emission reduction and economic growth', according to Claire Perry, Minister of Climate Change and Industry British research by the Aldersgate Group shows that well-formulated, sustainable legislation offers more economic benefits than disadvantages.
Good news for the British government that has drawn up both an Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy to accelerate growth towards a low-CO2 industry. The British government has published a white paper, among other things, to revive the growth and productivity of the industry. Clean technology is one of the four pillars that must contribute to the transition. With the new industrial policy, it wants to become the global forerunner in low-carbon economic growth.

And the Netherlands?
Hydrogen Dutch Blue Train
Compared with other countries, the Netherlands did not notice much in the area of, for example, sustainable legislation or striking sustainable political statements. Indeed, there is talk of the "greenest cabinet ever" and some praise the sustainable ambitions of Rutte 3, but at world level these are not very big steps compared to the aforementioned countries. Yet a few nice things also happened in the Netherlands. Such as the launch of the measurement method of the Platform Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), in which twelve Dutch financial institutions are united. Together they have developed an open source measurement method that makes the CO2 impact of investments and financing visible. This cooperation, in which the influence of the institutions on climate is looked at instead of the other way around, is unique. Our country also receives the first windmill that produces hydrogen, our farmers have the lowest environmental impact in the world and the most sustainable paint factory on Dutch soil.

Images: Shutterstock.com 

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More by: Hans van der Broek
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World traveler, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Has countless ideas and set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. Has an opinion about everything and unlimited thoughts about a better world. He likes hiking and climbed numerous 5.000 m.
World traveler, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Has countless ideas and set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. Has an opinion about everything and unlimited thoughts about a better world. He likes hiking and climbed numerous 5.000 m.
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