Examples of 2022 sustainability achievements in Costa Rica, The Netherlands, France, Hong Kong, and Uruguay.
2022 has been a landmark year both for climate change and for sustainability efforts. This year, President Biden signed the most significant climate legislation ever passed, the Inflation Reduction Act, which is aimed at lowering carbon emissions in a variety of sectors, including energy and transportation.
On top of that, many great sustainability achievements have occurred internationally. The Sustainable Development Report showed that the 10 countries with the most progress toward sustainable development goals are all in Europe.
Sustainability is also top of mind for Worldwide ERC®, which works closely with other stakeholders to meet governmental and corporate sustainability goals and advance sustainability in the mobility industry. Learn more about Worldwide ERC’s Road to Sustainability research.
Take a look at five examples from countries around the world that have accomplished big strides in sustainability since the start of the year.
Costa Rica’s sustainability efforts expand far past preserving its lush cloud forests and beautiful forests and into its cities. Ninety-nine percent of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources, and the country leads the world when it comes to reducing emissions.
In 2019, Costa Rica announced its plan to be carbon neutral by 2050 and, this February, Costa Rica shared that the country had already completed 61% of the first stage and is projected to reach 83% completion by the end of 2022. The first foundational phase has included implementing electric buses as part of urban public transportation routes, creating a national network of 43 electric vehicle chargers, and incorporating 1,652 livestock forms into the Livestock NAMA low-emissions program.
Amsterdam’s famous canals have been slowly drying up due to climate change, and experiencing Europe’s hottest summer on record didn’t help the already dwindling water supply. However, city planners in Enschede are devising ways to catch and collect rainwater to use during droughts.
The Netherlands’ sustainability has made an impact in nutrition, too. In June, a Netherlands-based bioscience firm called DSM announced customer sampling of the very first bio-based Vitamin A product. Vitamin A is usually synthesized from acetone, which is derived from fossil fuels. This new bio-based Vitamin A was developed from yeast from DSM labs and converts a renewable, locally obtained carbon source into Vitamin A. This makes it far more environmentally friendly and will eliminate waste during the manufacturing process. Vitamin A is one of the most in demand cosmetic products and is used for a variety of human and animal health applications.
France has been leading the charge for sustainability efforts even within Europe. Currently ranked fourth in the Global Sustainability Index, France is one of the lowest greenhouse gas emitters among industrialized nations in the world.
President Macron has passed a series of “green laws” this year to help reduce pollution. The laws included a ban on plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables that came into effect on New Years’ Day to reduce plastic waste. Additionally, households can receive a subsidy that can go up to €4,000 to switch trade in their car for electric bikes.
Hong Kong’s flagship air carrier is devoted to going green. Last month, Cathay Pacific Airlines announced a new agreement with the U.S.-based renewable company Aemetis. Aemetis will supply the airline with 38 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) starting in 2025. SAF can reduce life cycle carbon emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel.
This is the latest development in the airline’s mission to achieve more sustainable aviation practices. It was the first airline in Asia to start a carbon offsetting campaign almost 15 years ago. Last year, Cathay Pacific pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in 2050, making it one of the first airlines in Asia to set a goal to lower carbon emissions and establish a strategy that includes a clear timeline and agenda using SAF, carbon offsetting, and emissions reductions to meet climate goals.
Uruguay’s bet on renewables has paid off and offers a glimpse into a more sustainable future for industrialized countries trying to figure out how to meet their climate goals without impeding technological growth. Just 15 years ago, Uruguay was dependent on fossil fuels, and when compounded by a series of droughts, its demand for energy outstripped supplies, which caused prices to explode for its residents. In 2008, the government decided to invest in a renewable energy infrastructure than stay dependent on fossil fuels.
This infrastructure change has helped Uruguay’s current renewable energy industry blossom. In August, as part of a statement recognizing Uruguay’s Independence Day, the U.S. Secretary of State commended Uruguay for its exemplary efforts to fight climate change. Not only does Uruguay use renewable sources for 90% of its electricity, but it has become a renewable energy exporter within South America; its power company UTE broke records for foreign sales in 2021.