How Small Countries and Cities Are Making Big Strides Away From Fossil Fuel

20550015683_3b7c489796_k.jpgClimate change continues to threaten our planet. Its implications are likely catastrophic, and yet changing the way the world does things, especially in regards to our energy sources, has proven a slow and arduous task.

As the polar ice caps continue to melt away, it’s easy to get discouraged. However, Margaret Mead said it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Case in point: the relatively small Scandinavian country of Sweden recently announced plans to become the first ever fossil-fuel-free nation. Such a noble feat does come at a high cost. The country estimates that it will spend an estimated $546 million per year starting in 2016 on renewable energy and climate change actions. Although the country doesn’t have a firm timetable yet, it has committed to having the capital city of Stockholm running on 100% sustainable energy by the year 2050. 

This couldn’t come at a better time. With the United Nations Climate Change conference coming up soon in Paris, the hope is that other nations will see the strides being made in Sweden and follow suit.

In fact, France has recently made news with their first ever car-free day in the nation’s capital, which saw a reduction in both noise and air pollution. Police only allowed the city-wide ban on motor traffic to cover 30% of Paris, but even so the reports were encouraging.

According to an article in the Guardian,

Airparif, which measures city pollution levels, said levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40% in parts of the city on Sunday 27 September. There was almost one-third less nitrogen dioxide pollution on the busy Champs Elyées than on a similar Sunday. 40%. At the busy Place de l’Opera, levels were 20% lower.”

With more and more studies linking air pollution not only to climate change but also to health problems such as Alzheimer’s, heart, and respiratory diseases as well as some cancers, France’s worsening pollution has become a costly health concern.

Paris’s Mayor Christophe Najdovski says his dream is to have a city without cars, and said in the Guardian ...

It may be idealistic, but we have to start somewhere. And this is the road we have to go down if we want to have a city we can live in.”

For now Paris is considering implementing the ban on cars more often, perhaps even monthly to lower emissions.

Other small countries and states are finding their own ways to act.  A recent article in explains,

Earlier this year, Costa Rica met the entirety of its national power demand using renewable energy for 75 days straight. Shortly afterwards, the U.S. state of Hawaii passed legislation decreeing that, by 2045, the entire island will be powered by renewable, sustainable energy sources. Denmark, one spectacularly windy day in July, generated 140% of the nation’s electricity demand through wind power alone…” 

If you are interested in learning and doing more, consider visiting the World Carfree Network,the hub of the global car-free network committed to revitalizing our towns and cities from around the world to create a sustainable future.

PHOTO: via flickr


Read all articles by Juniper Briggs





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