In this article we will take a look at the 20 best countries to live considering climate change. You can skip our detailed analysis of the threats posed by climate change and go directly to the 5 Best Countries to Live Considering Climate Change.
Climate change is posing existential threats to the world. It has become evident with extreme weather, shrinking glaciers, accelerated sea levels, and record floods that global climate change is on the verge of destroying the environment. Climate change can be referred to as the significant increase in Earth’s temperature due to activities like burning fossil fuels (leading to carbon emission), deforestation, and intensive agriculture. The more scientific aspect of this change is Global Warming, caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. According to the Annual Climate Report 2020 report by NOAA, the land and ocean temperature have increased at an average of 0.08 degrees Celsius per decade since 1880. This change in temperature does not only affect humans but puts wildlife in equal danger. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that this temperature rise may put 20-30% of species at the risk of extinction. The year 2020 was 1.2C hotter than the average year in the nineteenth century. The average land and ocean temperature globally was recorded at 0.98C in 2020, compared to 0.92C in 2019. This temperature rise caused the ever so destructive wildfire in the U.S. state of California, burning more than 471,000 acres. In 2020, U.S. suffered a loss of over $258 billion due to weather catastrophes.
COVID-19 proved to be a blessing in disguise in terms of climate, but that too, only for a short period. The global closure of businesses and industries was meant to reduce the carbon emission threatening the ecosystem. In the first half of 2020, The Global Carbon Project predicted the fall of carbon emission by 7% by the end of the year. However, the latest studies show that the COVID-19 has negligible effects on the environment, and the global temperatures will only be 0.01C lower due to the pandemic. Despite this small number, the world has started to adopt green energy by focusing on renewable energy. Companies like Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, S.A. (MCE: SGRE.MC), Sunrun Inc. (NASDAQ: RUN), General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), etc., are some of the biggest names in the renewable industry. The renewable energy share in electricity is expected to increase by 30% in 2021.
Solar and renewable energy companies like Sunrun (NASDAQ:RUN) are getting a lot of attention from investors. Recently, investment firm Piper Sandler upgraded the stock to Overweight from Neutral with a $77 price target. The firm said that the latest decline in RUN price offers an attractive entry point. The firm also likes Sunrun (NASDAQ:RUN)'s growth in the residential solar segment. Major behemoths like General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) are announcing plans to go carbon neutral by 2030 and starting to rapidly invest in the future of energy. The company recently said that it plans to exit the new-build coal power market. In 2018, GE CEO John L. Flannery said that the transition away from fossil fuels would be “rough” for the company but it plans to go ahead with it and focus on long-term gains.
Leaders from around the world are joining to tackle the matter at hand. The Kyoto Protocol (1997) and The Paris Agreement (2016) are famous in this regard. Both agreements operate within the framework of UNFCCC and work for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. Along with this, more and more companies are opting for reducing their carbon footprints. For example, the German multinational corporation Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft/BMW has planned to reduce its emissions by 80% from 2019 levels by 2030. Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) has produced electric cars that have saved 15 million tons of CO2 in the U.S. Also, Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA)'s facilities are powered by 50% of renewable energy. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) aims to go carbon negative by 2030. Moreover, the company hopes to remove all the carbon it produced by 2050.
However, there is no denying that climate change is the problem of the hour, and many countries are vulnerable to this threat more than others. According to Climate Risk Index, Japan is the most affected country with a CRI score of 14.5. Other vulnerable countries include Zimbabwe, Malawi, the Bahamas, Mozambique, etc.
With this framework, let’s start our list of the 20 best countries to live in considering climate change. The list takes climate policies and overall green performance management of the countries into account.
Best Countries to Live Considering Climate Change
A small landlocked country in Western Europe, Luxembourg holds an advantage over climate due to its rural surroundings and dense forests. The government intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-55% by 2030. Renewable energy has a share of over 6.7% in electricity generation with a capacity of 451 MW. The wind capacity has also shown a visible increase in the past decade and has reached 166 MW in 2020. Luxembourg takes 21st place in 2021 CCPI.
The tropical climate of Brazil and its policies regarding climate change contribute to its somewhat desirable future. Under the Paris Agreement 2015, Brazil intends to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030. It has also taken steps to cut illegal deforestation to zero by 2030 due to the lingering threat of drought. Brazil’s renewable energy accounts for 83% of its energy matrix, with wind turbines reaching a capacity of 195 GWs in the coming decades. The country ranks 25th in 2021 CCPI.
Located in the monsoon region, Thailand can have drastic climate change effects. Its National Action Plan was first adopted in 2018, which promises a 20.8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Thailand’s renewable energy contributes roughly a third of overall power generation, with an energy capacity of nearly 15 GWs. The country aims to become Southeast Asia’s leader in renewable energy by taking this number to 63 GWs by 2030. The country stands at 26th place in 2021 CCPI.
17. Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s top agenda involves working for green energy. The country suffered a jolt due to COVID-19 restrictions but is back to achieving its targets. In the past few years, around 98% of the country’s electricity came from renewable sources. Recently, as part of its ambitious National Decarbonization Plan, Costa Rica has achieved a 100% renewable energy matrix deriving sources from solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal energy. It also aims to replace around 5% of the bus fleet with electric buses after every two years and has recently launched its first electric bus route.
Morocco is facing grave climatic changes, but its policies are moving in the right direction. The country ranks 7th on 2021 CCPI, and the Green Energy Strategy 2021 highlights the efforts made in climate-related problems. The country lays particular focus on the renewable energy sector. The largest solar farm in the world, Noor Solar Complex, supplies electricity to nearly 2 million Moroccans. The construction of this farm was part of Morocco’s energy policy. Also, the National Energy Strategy aims to generate 52% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.
A land-locked country in Central Europe, Hungary is rich in natural resources, including coal, fertile soils, arable land, etc. The availability of these resources does not prevent it from being entirely safe from the effects of climate change. Hungary faces the dangers of droughts, food security, soil degeneration, and impacts on agriculture due to climate change. However, its climate change plan is directed to lessen these effects. The actions involve it reducing its emissions to 40% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Geothermal power is mainly used in Hungary for electricity generation, and its renewable energy market is expected to grow by 4% by 2025.
With increasing heatwaves and less snow, France suffers the threat of adverse effects of climate change. The annual temperature of the country has risen by 0.95 degrees Celcius in the 20th C. The climate action plan of France aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The country has also announced €30 billion towards the ecological transition, supporting renewable energy, public transport, and improving insulation in public buildings and homes. France largely relies on renewable energy sources, with growing wind and solar power. In 2020, wind became the third-biggest source of electricity in the country, behind nuclear and hydro. Wind accounted for 17% of power generation, leaving behind gas. With regional differences, France experiences temperate weather with mild summers and cool winters, making it one of the best spots to live considering climate change. It takes 23rd position in 2021 CCPI.
Netherlands is one of the very first EU counties to announce the elimination of natural gas from its energy mix. Like many other countries, Netherlands also focuses on reducing 49% greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to impede the drastic effects of climate change. The country is surrounded by severe flooding threats as 55% of its territory is below sea level, where 60% of the population resides. To protect the citizens from extreme rainfalls, the government announced the Delta Programme, which prepares people for weather fluctuations and floods. Moreover, the climate plans also include all new passenger cars emission-free by 2030 and the maximum use of public transport. Due to this present performance and future policies, Netherlands ranks 29th on CCPI. It ranks 13th in our list of best countries to live considering climate change.
12. United Kingdom
In 2020, the peak average temperature of 17.2 degrees Celcius in August was recorded in the U.K., with the record 37.8°C at Heathrow Airport in July. To overcome the drastic climatic changes, the country has taken some aggressive climate change actions and aims to reduce carbon emissions by 68% by the end of this decade and 78% by 2035. This policy will bring electric cars, renewable electricity, and low-carbon heating into account. Along with this, this climate law will be covering international aviation and shipping. The U.K. has also achieved an 11% fall in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and is halfway to achieve net-zero emissions. The country ranks 5th on CCPI.
Ireland’s main advantage to climate disasters rests in its independence from agriculture. Though the greenery in Ireland is exceptional, the country does not mainly rely on agriculture, saving it from climatic destructions. According to Environmental Protection Agency, the Irish government is committed to reducing around 7% of its greenhouse gas emissions per year to reach the main goal by 2030. It also aims to achieve zero net emissions by 2050. Moreover, Ireland has abundant sources of renewable energy, including wind and tidal. The wind has been the main source of renewable energy, and the London-listed company SSE Renewable (LON: SSE) plans to spend over €6bn to build offshore wind farms around the Irish coast. Ireland ranks 39th on CCPI. Ireland ranks 11th in the list of best countries to live considering climate change.
Though Germany has recorded some climate change effects ranging from intense heat waves, coastal flooding, and water scarcity, the country has certain plans for winning the climate war. Germany adopted the Climate Action Program 2020 in 2014, according to which, it aims to reduce its emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The long-term plan involves becoming greenhouse gas neutral by 2050. Germany’s first Climate Action Law focused on different climate-related aspects, including industry and transport, and sets the reduction targets in line with greenhouse gas emission plans. These plans promise a clean future for the country. Germany takes 19th place in CCPI.
Iceland is the first country to find a great fix in order to subdue the effects of climate change through a process known as carbon capture and storage (CCS). According to the Environment Agency of Iceland, heavy industries in the country run on hydroelectricity and geothermal power, but producing metals contributes to 48% of CO2 emissions. Fortunately, the country has found a way to deal with this emission. The Icelandic startup has started to turn transmitted CO2 into stone by capturing the released carbon in the smokestack and injecting it into the basalt rock. This way, the rays are stored instead of escaping into the atmosphere and trapping heat. As part of its climate change plan, the country plans to go carbon neutral before 2040 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Iceland’s air also contributes to a healthy life as it ranks 98/106 country in AQI. It ranks 9th in the list of best countries to live considering climate change.
A landlocked East Alpine country is next on our list because of its competitive policies towards climate change. According to International Energy Agency (IEA), Austria aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, ten years earlier than the goal set by the EU. In 2018, the country released its #mission2030, which focused on all the sectors, including climate change, carbon-free energy, urban sprawl, etc. The mission also includes the installation of 1 million PV systems by 2030. The most distinctive step in this regard is Austria’s transport policy which is directed towards revamping public transport by giving nationwide access to buses, trains, and subways to its residents. This step would encourage people to travel less with their cars. Moreover, the country has a target to use 100% renewable energy in electric supply by 2030. Austria’s numerous rivers, high precipitation, and alpine topography present it with significant water resources. Putting these resources to practical use, hydropower accounts for over 50% of its total electricity generation. Austria ranks 35th on the 2021 CCP index. Austria ranks 8th on the list of best countries to live considering climate change.
Singapore, ranking 7th on the list of best countries to live considering climate change, cannot be taken as a country safe from the devastating effects of climate change. Over the past 50 years, the temperature has increased over 2 degrees Celsius resulting in fluctuating temperatures. Between rising sea levels and intense rainfalls, Singapore’s climate change policy focuses on curbing these effects. The country is the importer of its energy needs mainly, but the electricity generation depends on solar energy, contributing to the energy security of Singapore. It aims to deploy around two gigawatt-peak of solar power by 2030. As part of its Paris Agreement, Singapore plans to reduce its emission intensity by 36% below 2005 levels by 2030. The government has recently unveiled its $72 billion climate adaptation plan to address the sea-level rise, food sustainability, flooding, and investments in clean energy. If this works out, Singapore can be one of the desirable spots for spending a quality life.
Switzerland ranks 6th in the list of best countries to live considering climate change. It surpassed Paris Climate Accord when it presented its formal climate change policy to the UN in 2015. The country still stands on its stance to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 to its 1990 levels. The numerous weather parameters have recorded the effects of climate change in Switzerland over the past years. The temperature close to the ground has increased by 2.1 degrees Celsius since 1864. Also, the average winter precipitation has increased in some regions of the country. But the country’s policies and practices are aimed at reducing the effects. The primary energy source in Switzerland has always been hydropower, but the supply of electricity also depends on renewables, including biomass, the solar, wood, wind, and geothermal energy. This land-locked country also enjoys a moderate climate for the whole year, with few regions colder than the others. Switzerland stands at 14th place on 2021 CCPI.
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Disclosure: None. 20 Best Countries to Live Considering Climate Change is originally published on Insider Monkey.