For World Environment Health Day, researchers scanned the nations across the globe to see which have the least and which the most impact on the environment. South Africa is not only one of Africa’s biggest polluters.
Ranked at 95 of the 102 country’s surveyed – or eighth from bottom, only Madagascar in Africa comes lower at 100. While SA is marginally ahead of China (97) and the US (101), it lags behind India (75), Brazil (14) and Nigeria (35).
The survey from MoneySuperMarket showed that the African continent was setting the trend in the green stakes with Mozambique topping the list as the world’s greenest country followed by Ethiopia and Zambia. All three countries use almost 100 per cent green energy from local hydropower. Five of the top ten countries are on the African continent.
Part of the reason for South Africa’s poor ranking is that it uses minimal green and sustainable energy at 1.01%. It also uses 750% more energy than neighbouring Zimbabwe.
The survey took into account the percentage of green energy a country used, the CO2 emissions per capita, kilograms of municipal solid waste produced per day, atmospheric pollution, energy consumption per capita, tree coverage loss, and the percentage of waste water treated.
The world view
The researchers say there is much to be learnt from the countries towards the top of the rankings – many, like Mozambique, Ethiopia and Zambia, use nearly 100 per cent green energy, relying in particular on hydropower to provide energy for their citizens.
Adopting green energy on an individual level can be difficult or expensive. But a more practical approach for someone looking to reduce their climate footprint can turn their attention instead to their waste production, and what they do with that waste. Many of the highest-ranked countries produce minimal waste, while others have a strong approach to recycling.
As research into climate change continues, it is clearer that greenhouse gases, waste products, and deforestation are all having a major effect on the planet. And despite the rise in recycling rates and sustainable energy usage, we’re still far from our targets as a planet.
The top 10 countries – four of the top five are on the African continent
Mozambique: Residents cause the least impact on the world’s climate, using almost 100 percent green and sustainable energy, creating almost no waste, and producing almost no carbon dioxide. They do, however, fail to treat any local wastewater, which may have adverse effects on the local environment as well as their own health.
Ethiopia: While Ethiopia’s energy consumption is markedly lower than Mozambique’s – 1.75 Btu/capita/year compared with 8.9 for Mozambique – their waste production and exposure to pollutant PM2.5 particles are both higher.
Zambia: Unlike the top two countries, Zambia treats a portion of their wastewater – 4.2 per cent of it. However, pollutant particles and energy consumption are significantly higher, making this only the third greenest population.
Latvia: Latvia has the highest proportion of wastewater treated in the top five, with only 5.8 per cent going untreated. Energy consumption is, however, vastly higher, at 74 Btu/capita/year, and green energy is much lower at only 68 per cent of all energy used.
Kenya: Kenya ranks among the greenest countries in the world – but compared with the rest of the top five, green energy usage is comparatively low and pollutant particles are high – as are CO2 production and waste produced.
The worst offenders
Trinidad and Tobago, comes off worst using more energy per person than anywhere else – only 0.23 per cent of which is green. The Caribbean country also produces a remarkably high 37.1 tonnes of CO2 per person each year – 118 percent more than the United States.
The United States fared worse than China in the survey, although neither has a record that is anything to be proud of, but perhaps the more surprising inclusion among the world’s worst are Canada at 98 and Australia and 96.
Source: Independent on Saturday