Global Leaders as Paradigms for Fighting Climate Change at the Federal Level
October 5, 2022
As the modern environmental crisis continues to ravage countries and the global population, global policy and legislation are shifting away from a concentrated anthropocentric perspective towards a more holistic approach. This method encapsulates environmental and animal health alongside that of human health. Sustainability and efforts to mitigate the root causes of climate change are becoming increasingly central themes in the enactment of new legislation and governmental action.
The governmental leaders of Finland, Singapore, and Portugal have become models for efficient and effective adjusted policy in their hopes of transitioning to more sustainable societies. Not only do all of these nations belong to the Paris Accord and have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but they have vouched for their participation in COP27.
One of the most radical climate action proposals in history is fueled by the passionate young Prime Minister of Finland: Sanna Marin. She is being globally revered for her ambitious proposals some of which include an augmented Climate Change Act now aiming to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035 and fossil-fuel free by 2030 in the energy sector. Marin is spearheading projects to bolster their carbon sinks and sequestration efforts through the conservation and expansion of peatlands.
In her speech to Columbia University, Marin highlighted that the Nordic welfare model implemented in Finland allows for a more dynamic approach to issues posed by the climate crisis. Thus, this progressive societal structure lays the foundation for Finland to maintain efforts towards Green Transition and Circular Economy goals. The active circular economy proposal aims to increase the productivity of natural resources through recycling and reduction in waste along all stages of the production process.
The Finnish Sustainable Growth Programme and the Sustainable Development Goals formulated by the United Nations have become tangible in the city of Helsinki. There, a human centered model, urban forestry projects, and an emphasis on ecological synergy has created an internationally recognized urban model for development. Moreover, this city has been influential in the inception of interwoven human and nature schematic concepts.
João Pedro Matos Fernandes, the President of Portugal, is another leader pioneering progressive responses to the climate crisis. In collaboration with the Ministerio de Ambiente e Acao Climatica (Ministry of Environment and Climate Action) the Strategic Framework for the Climate, more commonly known as QEPiC, has been curated. This umbrella framework comprises 6 sub-projects: the National Climate Change Programme 2030, National Climate and Energy Plan 2030, National ETS, National Action Plan for Renewable Energies, National Action Plan for Energy Efficacy, and the National Air Strategy.
Alongside QEPiC, Fernandes has enacted the Climate Basis Law and has constructed an extensive Environmental Fund. The most aggressive goals for Portugal are their commitment to carbon neutrality before 2050 paired with a targeted 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that will be achieved through an incremental process of electrifying the economy. Businesses must adhere to a carbon trading scheme which revolves around obtaining a permit, annual recertification, and filing environmental impact assessments.
Portugal is taking an economic approach to climate resolution by reallocating funds and divesting financial capital from fossil fuel corporations to solar energy projects. By closing their last operational coal power plant, Portugal is phasing out their reliance on nonrenewable resources. Because of these policies there has been a 40% increase in the shares of renewable resource corporations subsequently incentivizing companies to evolve towards more sustainable modes of operation.
Regarded as the Greenest Asian City, Singapore is another country front-running the war against climate change. Led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore was among the first 20 nations to submit their long term climate strategy known as the Green Plan 2030 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This plan is made up of 5 initiatives: City in Nature, which focuses on carbon sequestration and increasing biodiversity; Sustainable Living, which highlights recycling waste and water; Green Commutes, which has contributed to freezing the growth of the vehicle population; Green Economy, which includes the Enterprise Sustainability Program; and Resilient Future, which emphasizes local food production and combating rising sea levels.
Loong is also taking a grassroots approach to Singapore’s climate plan by implementing an EcoStewardship Program in schools to cultivate an impassioned youth population. Education is taking a central role in Singapore’s action. Outside of school, citizens and international populations alike are learning about how to construct a city that integrates environmental and human health needs based on Singapore’s sustainable development projects.
With a successful Green Investment Program, Singapore is funding projects such as planting 1 million trees in 2023, constructing floating solar energy systems, and operating on a closed water loop. They follow a biophilic-inspired design and have prompted global urban ecology and sustainable development movements as they continue to build a City in a Garden.
Ahead of COP27, EARTHDAY.ORG’s Invest In Our Planet asks that governments step up to fight climate change. Finland, Portugal, and Singapore and their leaders are acting as paradigms for other nations and populations to follow in terms of action that government officials can take to influence civic participation, enforce eco-business remodeling, create substantial climate engagement, and foster sustainable development.