Perhaps the biggest battle that humanity has had to face thus far has only just begun, and it’s already claiming lives across the world by the dozens. Although it’s already taking a toll on populations of every species, it seems that many are only just now beginning to pay attention to it as it starts to claim the lives of those who look more familiar to us.
That being the case, though, there is still a significant number of people out there who deny that it even exists in the first place, and this denial has become intertwined in the politics of many countries across the globe—an issue of exceptionally contentious debate.
What is this uphill battle, really, you might ask? Well, it’s none other than climate change, of course.
Climate change is essentially a change in either local weather or Earth’s climate. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?
If left unchecked, climate change will wreak havoc on every single one of Earth’s ecosystems, causing everything from extreme droughts and flooding, to rampant wildfires, mass extinction events and a quintessentially uninhabitable planet. With such a grim picture looming over the horizon as early as the turn of the next century, one might wonder what humanity could possibly do at this point to stop it.
Although it may seem like the U.S. has taken a turn for denial with Trump’s recent decision to pull our country out of the ground-breaking Paris Climate Agreement, there is still hope for our planet yet—a whole hell of a lot of it, in fact.
Thankfully, countless other countries across the globe have determined to put fighting climate change at the top of their agendas, and the global push-back against such a rampant beast has really only just begun.
Here are some of the countries leading the way.
Information courtesy of Climate Reality Project, Official SwedenEcoWatch, and The New York Times
Sweden; Costa Rica; Nicaragua; Germany; and China
Main photo by kansasphoto, CC BY 2.0
Natalie Wickstrom is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.
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Back in 2015, Sweden was one of the first countries to put their foot down, committing to the complete elimination of fossil fuel-usage within their country, as well as turning their investments to various forms of renewable energy. As of right now, only 20 percent of the country's energy consumption is a result of fossil fuel-usage. In addition to this, despite the fact that Sweden is one of the top energy consumers per capita, the average Swede only releases around 4.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide, while the EU average remains around 6.91 tonnes and the U.S. continues to sky-rocket at 16.15 tonnes per person. What does this mean? Sweden has somehow found a way to reduce their carbon emissions while simultaneously growing their economy. It also means that the rest of the world better take notice.
tsaiproject / Flickr, CC BY 2.0
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Not only has Costa Rica committed to being completely "carbon-neutral" by 2021, but they also managed to generate 99 percent of their power from renewable energy back in 2015. With prime geography and climate for solar and wind power, in particular, the country has become a beacon of hope for the renewable energy movement, committing themselves to complete and total environmental preservation and protection going forward.
kansasphoto / Flickr, CC BY 2.0
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Having invested the fifth-highest percentage of their GDP in the world into renewable energy development in its various forms back in 2012, the country was able to power 54 percent of their electricity generation with renewables by 2015. The majority of its renewable energy comes from solar, wind and geothermal sources, and the Nicaraguan government is aiming for their country to achieve 90 percent total renewable power by 2020. With its exceptionally sun-coverage and 19-plus volcanoes, the country has plenty of renewable natural resources to be able to develop their energy projects for years to come.
Flickr, CC BY 2.0
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Despite Germany's population of more than 80 million people, the country still manages to power a day's worth of electricity for every citizen with as much as 78 percent renewable power. Politically, the European country was one of the first to declare themselves on-board with the fight against climate change, simultaneously committing themselves to becoming leaders in the development of the solar industry. To this day, Germany remains the world leader in its solar PV capacity despite its near-constant cloud cover, proving to the rest of the world that not even geographical limitations can hold a country back from fully investing in renewables.
Bill Tyne / Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Although China is currently the world's largest carbon-emitter, they are also one of the most committed to reversing the effects of their poisonous consumption habits. Despite the fact—or, perhaps, due to the fact—that Chinese cities have some of the worst air-quality in the world, the country became the leader in the amount of wind capacity installed in 2014, alone, and have since continued to lead the scoreboard in terms of the sheer number of solar panel and windmill installations done every year. Though still heavily-reliant on coal and fossil fuels to power their north-of-a-billion citizens on a daily basis, China hopes to phase both forms of energy out of their markets completely—a task which they are already surpassing the U.S. on completing in leaps and bounds.
Mike Behnken / Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0