Climate change is one of the most pressing issues on many countries' political agendas, especially as we're beginning to learn we might have less time than we thought before its effects worsen significantly. Despite the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, all isn't lost: Many destinations around the world are quickly and drastically amping up efforts in renewable energy and other climate change mitigation measures. Read on for six destinations actually doing something to combat climate change.
A go-to vacation destination for both Americans and those farther flung, the Caribbean is particularly susceptible to climate change regarding the one thing that makes it so popular: its gorgeous beaches. Not only do they work as barriers between the ocean and inland towns, protecting residents, but they also generate a substantial chunk of islands’ economies. Unfortunately, erosion due to rising sea levels (and not helped by developers building on dunes) is already impacting the Caribbean’s sandy shores. Funding from South Korea, the Netherlands, and Japan is being put to use to help mitigate the issue. Money will go to developing an engineering manual for coastal areas and creating a Caribbean-wide network to keep an eye on erosion.
For a small country, Scotland is doing more than its fair share in leading renewable energy across the U.K. — and the world. In 2016 the Independent reported that in October of that year, Scotland generated enough wind power to power 87 percent of households in the country for a month. Then over the Christmas holidays, Scotland’s turbines generated more electricity than the country needed for four days in a row — proof that Scotland’s efforts to capitalize on their strong winds and potential for onshore wind energy are hardly in vain.
Another relatively tiny country, Costa Rica is booming when it comes to renewable energy: In 2016, almost all of its energy came from renewable sources, including water, sun, and wind. It ran carbon free for 250 days last year, with a total of 98.9 percent of its grid coming from clean sources. As of January 2017, four more wind farms are in the works.
Many countries strive to reach the goal of 50 percent of their total energy coming from renewable sources, and Sweden has already surpassed that mark, with nearly 54 percent of its energy coming from renewables in April 2017. And they’re proof that a switch from fossil fuels can be made: In 1970, 75 percent of its energy came from oil.
In 2014, Denmark set a record for wind production, getting almost 40 percent of its energy from turbines and proving its chops as a global leader in renewable energy. By 2020, it’s planning to draw half its energy from non-fossil sources, and by 2050, Denmark plans to be fully powered by renewable energy. They showed off a bit earlier this year, when on February 22, they ran the whole country on 100-percent renewables for a day.
Its wind grid reliability is a key reason why Apple decided to invest in the country by building a second data center there, which will run entirely off of renewables (Facebook is also building one, and Google is considering it as well). According to NPR, the way that Danish houses are connected to a central district heating system means that otherwise-wasted heat from Apple’s servers will keep 150,000 Danes toasty in the winter.
Conveniently, wind is also the country’s least expensive form of energy, which helps make the switch a no-brainer for both citizens and businesses.
If you’re surprised that this country made the list, you have good reason: China has been one of the most polluting nations on earth as its industrialization efforts grew exponentially. But the country is now turning its attention to renewable energy, and for the past couple of years, it has been leading the world in sheer investment in renewable energy. Although it still relies on coal, China is closing mines, investing hundreds of billions into clean power (particularly solar and wind), and creating about 10 million jobs in renewable sectors. Currently, it produces half of the world’s wind turbines and two-thirds of the world’s solar panels.
One of the newer projects in China is a converted coal mining factory that’s now a floating solar farm covering 100 square miles of an eastern province — it’s the largest in the world. China also has even more plans in store. Earlier this year, the country’s National Energy Administration set targets to reduce coal and get the country’s renewable consumption to 20 percent of its total power by 2030. They already have one bragging point: In June, the province of Qinghai, which usually draws 82 percent of its energy from renewable sources, ran completely on clean energy for a week.
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