10 Most Sustainable Countries in the World

In 2020, a majority of the greenest countries in the world were located in Europe. More countries around the world are trying to put in sustainable policies to help reduce the global impact we have on the planet.

The environmental performance index measures the performance of each countries policies. There are 24 indicators used to analyze each country. Some of the indicators include water quality, air quality, and sanitation.

The top ranked countries are the ones that are closest to meeting their environmental policy goals. With that said, here are the top 10 green countries in the world.

10 greenest countries in the world

1. Denmark

colorful houses by the river in denmark

Taking the top spot this year is Denmark. The EPI gave them a score of 82.5. They have the lowest CO2 growth rate along with ranking high for sanitation, wastewater treatment, and marine protected areas.

Samso, which is an island in Denmark, is one of the few places in the world that relies entirely on renewable energy such as solar, wind, and biomass energy. All oil-burning heaters were replaced, and homes were insulated. Denmark puts particular focus on waste recycling, water management, and green transportation through their bicycling culture. 

2. Luxembourg

castle in mountains in luxembourg

Coming in at number two is Luxembourg. They have an EPI score of 82.3. One of the goals this country has set for the year is to reduce CO2 emissions by a million tons in comparison to last year.

Luxembourg’s plan to accomplish this is to reduce the sales of petrol. At the beginning of the 2010’s, the country had among the highest CO2 emissions in the world, even higher than the United States. Now in 2020, they’re in the top 10 in having the lowest CO2 growth rate.

3. Switzerland

wooden houses in a village in switzerland

Switzerland has consistently ranked within the top five environmentally friendly countries since the EPI started scoring. It’s one of the few countries that does not have a landfill. Instead, all trash is incinerated with minimal amount of air pollution.

Additionally, they have an industrial scale carbon-capture plant which removes about 900 tons of Carbon Dioxide from the air. That’s the same amount that’s produced by about 200 cars in one year.

4. United Kingdom

sheep standing in field in wales

The United Kingdom is high on this list for having the second lowest CO2 growth rate. They were also number one in clean drinking water and marine protected areas.

A survey that was done by GlobalData, found that four out of ten UK consumers factor in sustainability when purchasing products. The UK also recently banned plastic straws in their country.

5. France

bicycle in french town

It’s no surprise that the country where the Paris Climate Agreement was drafted is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world. The French have a law that any new buildings built in commercial zones must have roofs partially covered with plants or solar panels. The capital city of Paris input a plan to double their biking lanes and make their country more of a bike friendly city.

6. Austria

town in austria

Austria has been one of the top countries in producing organic food. Over 20% of Austria’s farmland follow the environmental standards of organic farming.

The country has set a goal of eliminating the use of heating oil nationwide by 2035. Austria hopes to reach climate neutrality by 2040.

7. Finland

busy street with people and tram car in finland

Finland’s air is one of the cleanest in the world. In addition to having clean air, Finland has been reaching the point where their renewable energy is surpassing their use of fossil fuels. Businesses in the country are planning to reach 50% renewable energy consumption by 2030.

8. Sweden

colorful houses by the sea in sweden

Sweden consistently ranks in the top ten when it comes to sustainability. According to one study, over 40% of Swedish people purchase eco-labeled food and consumer products. They hope to become the first fossil-fuel free country in the world by 2050.

9. Norway

red wooden homes in norway mountains

Norway has been the leading country in putting more electric cars on the road. It’s expected that nearly 60% of all new cars bought this year will be electric.

In recent years, Norway’s electricity production has become 97% renewable. The country hopes within this year they’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.

10. Germany

road surrounded by trees in berlin germany

Germany caps off the list of eco-friendly countries in the world. They’ve set a goal to close their last nuclear power plant in 2022, powering their country completely through conservation, renewables, and gas turbines.

Recently, more Germans have been leaning towards veganism. It's reducing the meat consumption in the country, and thus reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Least Green Countries

While there are many countries in the world making great progress in being more sustainable, there are still many others that have a lot of work to do. Here are the least environmentally-friendly countries.

1. Liberia

EPI ranked Liberia at the bottom of the list in sustainability. Among the environmental issues in this country include deforestation of tropical rainforests, river pollution, and burning of household waste. Nonetheless, an environmental law organization has started in Liberia to help the local communities protect their environment.

2. Myanmar

Similar to Liberia, Myanmar has also struggled with deforestation and hunting of endangered animal species such as elephants. Eco-friendly startups have helped to make Myanmar more sustainable by turning trash dumped in the streets and rivers into craft products. It not only has helped reduce the amount of waste in the country, it’s also created more jobs for the citizens.

3. Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s air quality has been poor due to burning wood and other materials to provide household energy. The water quality has also worsened in recent years due to poor waste management.

Despite these challenges, Afghanistan is working to use more renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. In 2012, 64.4% of Afghanistan’s electricity consumption was generated through hydropower.

4. Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has seen a loss of soil fertility and biodiversity with an increase of air and water pollution. All of these problems have made it difficult for the country to improve their economic development.

After a deadly mudslide in 2019, a local teen was inspired to create recyclable bags to reduce the impact of deforestation and waste management in the country. Alhaji Siraj Bah’s company has created over 250,000 recyclable bags so far.

The improved waste management will reduce soil erosion, and potentially prevent future landslides. Bah also hopes to create an alternative for charcoal, which is largely used in the country to cook meals and heat homes.

Other sustainable countries ranking

Other large countries are ranking either fairly high or fairly low. Ranked at 11, Japan is among the most environmentally friendly countries in Asia. Canada is ranked at 20, making it the most sustainable country in North America. The United States was ranked 24th in the EPI results.

You can learn about where your country was ranked here. We encourage you to learn more about what your community is doing to become more sustainable and find ways you can contribute in making sustainable lifestyle choices.

Once you learn, you can plan your eco-friendly new year's resolutions and ring in 2023 with a sustainable new year's eve celebration. Do your best as we head into this new time to conserve more energy and practice green living.

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sustainable countries - wooden houses in switzerland surrounded by trees and mountains

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3 Comments

  1. Sweden has one of the most destructive forestry practices on the planet. Getting fossil free relies on cutting irreplacable old-growth forest. Even though you often hear that Sweden has 70% forest, most of it is essentially plantations with extremeley low biodiversity. We have less forest left than many tropical rainforest countries.

    Lool at this documentary:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=q51FMbTOn_Q

    /Magnus, biologist