Top 10 Cleanest Countries On Our Planet and How They Achieved It

Cleanliness, they say, is next to godliness. You only have to look at the beauty of our natural environment in its purest form to appreciate the truth in that maxim. The green grasses, colorful and stunning flowers, lush vegetation, rivers, streams, seas, and oceans, animals on land, sea creatures and the birds of the skies. 

The beauty, dynamism, and cohesion of nature’s processes are always a marvel to the human mind. 

But how much of a role do we play in destroying or preserving our planet in all its beauty? Since the advent of industrialization, we (as a common human race) have done harm to nature by our activities. 

If you agree with scientific data about issues like global warming and the resulting climate change, you will easily concur that although in some parts of the world more effort is being made to preserve nature, we collectively still have a lot left to be done.

Speaking of nature’s beauty and cleanliness, here, we’ll present a list of top 10 cleanest countries on our planet Earth. 

In coming up with this list, we’ve used a measurement known as the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), which was created by two American educational institutions — Yale and Columbia universities, in partnership with the World Economic Forum. And just in case you’re wondering how they arrived at the ranking, you can find out more here

But quick words of caution — you’ll need to have a decent knowledge of Statistics to make sense of it all. Also, for college students who are considering buying essay papers for their writing assignments related to this topic, this could be a good resource for them to use in their paper. 

The ranking presented below is based on the 2018 EPI report. It ranks 180 countries around the world using 24 indicators measuring performance in 10 categories that concern environmental health and the vitality of the Earth’s ecosystem. 

The measure of Ecosystem Vitality is given a 60% weight (or importance), and by implication, Environmental Health is assigned the remaining weight of 40%. 

Of the ten measurement categories under which the EPI indicators are grouped, Environmental Health covers three categories —  air quality, water quality, and heavy metals. The remaining seven categories, which fall under Ecosystem Vitality, are climate and energy, air pollution, biodiversity and habitat, forests, fisheries, agriculture, and water resources. Clearly, these measures address many important environmental cleanliness and sustainability issues.

You can simply think of this ranking as being a tool for gauging how well countries and their governments are doing in keeping our natural environment safe, clean, and healthy.

Switzerland

With a 2018 EPI score of 87.42, Switzerland is currently ranked as the cleanest country on Earth using the EPI indicators. 

Located in central Europe, the country is geographically marked by mountainous landscapes (which are a part of the Alps), many lakes and villages. It has a population of about 8.42 million people and is famous for its banking institutions globally renowned for its secrecy and client confidentiality practices. 

Besides that, Switzerland is a popular destination for various winter sports such as mountain skiing. It is also known for its aerial tramways and the city of Davos, which is the host city for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).

France

In the 2018 EPI report, France takes the second position in the ranking. The country is located in western Europe and has a population of about 67 million people. 

France is known for its eminence in the fashion industry with numerous fashion houses located there, its wines and cuisines, architectural styles that have survived through centuries, art museums, and landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. 

Although France is one of the most industrialized nations on Earth when it comes to preserving nature, the country’s government has continuously shown strong commitments. 

In 2001, they passed an Act recognizing climate change as a “national priority.” In 2005, they committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% come 2050. The country even passed a legislation of the POPE Act which spells out a set of energy policy guidelines with measurable targets that will be used to fulfill its commitment.  

It is noteworthy to add that the international event, in which the 2016 Climate Agreement was adopted with 175 countries as signatories, was held in the French capital — Paris. Accordingly, the agreement is officially called the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. 

The aim of the deal is to strengthen and coordinate our collective human effort at tackling the problem of climate change through a commitment to limiting the global temperature rise this century to less than 2-degree Celsius above pre-industrialization levels and to even go further in the future to bring the limit down to 1.5 degree Celsius.

Denmark

Moving one step higher in the 2018 ranking from 2017, Denmark obtained a 2018 EPI score of 81.60. 

The Scandinavian country geographically consists of the Jutland Peninsula and many islands. Although the petroleum and gas industry is one of its main industries, Denmark is known for its support for environmentally friendly and renewable energy sources. 

As a matter of fact, the country has gone from using 99% of fossil fuels in its total energy consumption in 1972 to 73% of fossil fuels in 2015. In that time period, renewable energy consumption has increased from 1% to 27%. 

The Nordic country has already committed itself to achieve 100% renewable energy use by 2050. 

It is such actions and efforts coupled with other environmental conservation practices that make Denmark a very clean country to live in. If you’ve regularly come across a ranking of countries with happiest people on earth, you’ll observe Denmark is often in the top 10. 

Malta

A small country geographically formed from an archipelago of islands in the central Mediterranean sea, Malta is ranked as the fourth most clean country with an EPI score of 80.90 in 2018. 

The small nation has a population of about 440 000 people. It is known for its beautiful beaches and historic sites, some dating as far back as 4000 B.C. The air quality is high as well as other environmental indicators.

Although the country has its own set of political and economic challenges to tackle, the Maltese government has committed to improving its environmental sustainability practices and policies.  Clearly, the fact that the country has been ranked fourth shows they have been doing things right in that direction.

Sweden

Another Scandinavian country in close proximity with Finland and Norway, Sweden obtained an EPI score of 80.51 to take this position in the 2018 ranking.

The country with a population of about 10 million people takes environmental preservation seriously. Thanks to the abundant supply of running water and biomass, the country’s percentage of renewable energy generation continues to grow. 

Hydroelectric power and bioenergy currently are the largest renewable energy sources. Although its total renewables percentage of its entire energy mix stood at 54% in 2016, Sweden is not resting on its laurels. The country has a clear goal to increase that number to 100% by 2040

With such incredible efforts and resolve, it’s no surprise the country ranks high on this list.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom was given a 2018 EPI score of 79.89, putting it in the sixth position. 

One of the largest economies in Europe and with a population of approximately 66 million individuals, the UK has great energy needs. In doing so, it has to also pursue its environmental sustainability goals. 

Doing so has not been easy. In fact, its target of sourcing 15% of its final energy consumption from renewables by 2020 is already a failed one. With the complexities and implications of Brexit still not fully understood, the country’s policies and commitments around renewables are as certain as many would like them to be. 

Nonetheless, the UK is known for its innovation and other positive indicators of environmental cleanliness.Clearly, the EPI indicators for 2018 have signaled positive things about the British nation regarding environmental issues. 

Luxembourg

A small European country with a population of approximately 600,000 humans, Luxembourg earned a 2018 EPI score of 79.12. 

Although the little nation has various energy and pollution challenges, it has still made significant strides over the last decade to improve its environmental sustainability policies. The fact that it appears on the seventh position in the 2018 ranking is some indication that the country is a clean place to live in.

Austria

Located in central Europe, Austria is a nation of about 8.8 million inhabitants and is rich in art history. 

The country scored 78.97 in EPI to earn it its eighth spot in the top 10 cleanest countries in the world. The nation has made significant progress over the past decade to increase its renewable energy dependence, even though it still has serious carbon-based energy challenges. 

Between 2007 and 2014, Austria increased its public funding for energy development and research efforts by at least a factor of 3. 

Environmental sanitation is taken very seriously, and the country’s water quality is one of the highest in the world. Austria is known to have very clean streets and one of the most innovative refuse management systems in the world.

Ireland

Ireland is an island located in the North Atlantic ocean and in proximity to the United Kingdom. The country’s EPI score for 2018 was 78.77, and it has a population of approximately 4.8 million people. 

The Austrian government has taken various steps towards growing its environmental protection efforts. In 2015, a comprehensive update of its national energy policy was done. One of its long-term targets (for 2050) is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% compared to the 1990s level. However, it only aims to achieve zero-carbon emissions by the end of this century (2100).

Finland

Located in the Northern part of Europe, Finland is ranked 10th in the 2018 EPI report with an EPI score of 78.64. 

With a population of 5.5 million people, Finland is known for its sustainable energy generation and use policies and is regarded as one of the best places to live on Earth. Its main sources of renewable energy are hydroelectric power and biomass. Solar power and wind turbines are also important sources. 

Finland is considered to be a low-carbon country, and its government is working toward making it a zero-emission nation in the coming decades. In order to improve its chances of achieving its lofty sustainability goals, the country has over the years taken proactive measures to ban the use of coal.

It has favorable tax policies that promote the generation and use of renewable energy. The tax policy includes tax reductions, exemptions, and subsidies in place under specific criteria for electricity consumption and production from renewable sources. There are also investments grants available for individuals (such as farmers) and businesses looking to set up renewable energy systems. 

Ultimately, this ranking should give you a sense of how much efforts and resources the above countries have put thus far in making their natural environment safe and clean. The need for doing so cannot be overemphasized. Future generations of humans and other organisms deserve to live in a safe and protected ecosystem on Earth. 

Hence, our efforts today at ensuring environmental sustainability is the gift we can bequeath posterity. And lastly, don’t forget the EPI ranking is not permanent; with concerted effort, including your individual contribution, your country could appear on the top ten list in less than a decade’s time!

Victoria Brewood
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Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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