Depending on where you live, your government will be doing different things to help you go green and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. In some countries, the federal and the local governments are truly giving their best to help their citizens adopt a greener lifestyle; while for others, this is not high on the list of priorities.
- Super Green Countries
Iceland is generally considered to be the greenest country in the world. The main reason for this is that 100% of the country’s supply of energy and heating is from renewable sources, thanks to the abundance of rivers and geothermal reserves. However, Iceland’s commitment to the environment goes beyond this. If you purchase a green car in Iceland, you do not pay the value-added tax. Also, you get free parking in city centers for 90 minutes. They have also made it their mission to make every other aspect of their citizens’ lives greener.
Other European countries such as Sweden, Norway and Switzerland are also doing their best to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure their citizens adopt a greener way of life. It should be pointed out that these are particularly affluent countries and that it may be easier for them to go green and to promote green initiatives.
Another very interesting example is Germany, whose relationship with renewable energy has been an interesting and volatile one. Namely, when German government started adding taxes to fossil fuels, this was met with great resistance. However, over time, their accent on renewable energy has introduced tens of thousands of jobs, as well as revitalized a number of industries.
Even the Chinese who are usually considered to be among the greatest polluters have started doing things to protect the environment and move to renewable energy sources. For example, they have adopted a number of policies aimed at bringing the percentage of electric cars to 30% and to reduce carbon emissions by taxing companies that exceed their allotted emissions. The Chinese have also become the world’s leading country in solar energy adoption.
- The Situation in the U.S.
The good news is that the federal, state and local governments in the U.S. have also started doing their share to motivate people to go greener. This is especially important considering that the U.S. is the second-biggest polluter in the world and that its citizens are often considered to be among the least green in the world.
For example, the federal government now offers tax credits of up to $7,500 for electric cars. Considering these vehicles are often more expensive than your average gas-guzzlers, this is an important incentive. In addition to this, both federal government and some state ones offer incentives to employers who encourage their staff to come to work using public transport or their bikes.
There are other ways in which businesses are encouraged to support green incentives. For example, businesses can reduce their taxable income if they employ systems that use greywater, which is basically reclaimed wastewater. Federal and state governments also support people who decide to work in a home office as opposed to opening a separate commercial property. Thanks to these incentives, people who work in a home office can get significant tax deductions.
Governments are also doing their best to help U.S. citizens install green home improvements in their homes. For example, they often offer tax credits on doors and windows that exceed certain energy efficiency requirements. With a bit of help from companies like Ygrene, governments also make it easier for people to do major green home improvements such installing solar panels, major water system overhauls and other similar improvements that may require significant investments up front.
Oftentimes, you will also find very local programs, such as the one in Beverly Hills where businesses that install a waterless urinal are paid $500 by the city government. This is just one of the ways in which Beverly Hills is trying to incentivize the residents to consume less water.
While there is still a LOT to be done when it comes to government incentives to go green, there are definitely some steps being made in the right direction. We can only hope that both the federal and the local governments keep moving in this particular direction.
AUTHOR: James D. Burbank usually blogs about business and marketing on his blog BizzMarkBlog. Every now and then, he finds the time to blog about green living, the subject that is really close to his heart.