There is no doubt that combating climate change is a nationwide issue. While we should all make an effort to reduce our carbon footprint on a personal level, to make a real difference, entire countries are going to need to commit themselves to the cause.

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We have known of the threat to the environment for a few decades now. One might hope that each country of the world has taken it upon themselves to do all they can to move towards a future that is green and sustainable. Sadly, that’s… not exactly happening. Some countries are being held back by climate change deniers in their midst, while others are simply too busy trying to bolster their economy to look at the needs of the climate.

However, as a beacon of light amidst all the bad news, some countries are taking the demands of the future seriously. Let’s investigate the five greenest countries on earth, and the steps they are taking to earn their place in the top five…

#1 – Sweden

Sweden is the “greenest” country on earth, and looking through their various initiatives, it’s easy to see why. They were the first country to tax carbon dioxide emissions, and have also invested heavily in renewable energy research and development.

The crowning jewel in Sweden’s green crown is Växjö, a city that has vowed to cut its reliance on fossil fuels entirely within the next century. Thanks to a nearby waste wood industry, Växjö is well on target to meet its goal. At the time of writing, it has reduced its CO2 emissions drastically, with 90 percent of the city’s energy coming from trees.

#2 – Norway

Like its Scandinavian sibling, Norway has taken the threat of climate change seriously. The country has long been implementing policies designed to reduce fossil fuel usage and improve carbon emissions. Most notable is, as reported on bigthink.com, their commitment to cycling “superhighways” as a future transportation system.

#3 – Costa Rica

Costa Rica might not be a country you think of often, but it’s way ahead of the curve on green initiatives. An incredible 95 percent of the national energy comes from renewable sources, a number all countries should aspire to.

#4 – Germany

One of the most innovative parts of Germany’s focus on a greener future is the Pfand system. Customers pay a small deposit when they buy a labeled bottle, and the deposit is refunded when the bottle is returned. Rather than just throwing a used bottle in the trash, there’s a real financial incentive to collect and return them– an idea that many countries could benefit from.

#5 – Denmark

As you can see on stateofgreen.com, Denmark is dedicated to its future green credentials. The Danish government have presented a strategy with an ambitious target; they want to be independent from fossil fuels by 2050. If they manage to hit that target, Denmark will climb up the rankings and compete with its neighbor Sweden for the top spot.

So while many countries might still be struggling to grasp the urgency for action on climate change, at least some countries are taking the lead and stepping into a greener future. With any hope, the rest of the world will soon see the light, and follow in their footsteps.

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