If Trump Believes The USA Will Be The Cleanest Country In The World, He Has Some Stiff Competition

Unless you have been completely cut off from the outside world, you would most likely be well aware by now that President Trump has withdrawn the US from the Paris climate accord. The Paris climate accord is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, where each country determines its own contribution in order to mitigate global warming.

Before the withdrawal of the US, only two countries hadn’t signed the accord — Syria and Nicaragua. Syria was a little pre-occupied fighting a war and Nicaragua didn’t join because they thought the accord wasn’t stringent enough! President Trump said he was open to renegotiating the deal, an option that doesn’t exist, but he also made another lofty claim:

When you pull out of an agreement that forces countries to be cleaner, it’s hard to back up a claim that you will still some how manage to be the cleanest, especially when you look at what other countries are doing. Let’s take a look at other nations efforts toward a cleaner environment, starting with water.

Singapore, a tiny city-state off the coast of Malaysia, has no natural fresh water sources, whether they be rivers or lakes. Therefore Singapore relies on rainwater and a deal to import water from Malaysia for most of their water supply, topped up with NEWater. NEWater is the marketing name for treated sewerage that has been made pure by using micro-filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet technologies, as well as regular water treatment processes. Although NEWater is perfectly safe for human consumption and is added to the public water supply, it is mainly used for other needs for one main reason — It is too clean and doesn’t contain any real nutrients on it’s own.

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At the official launch of NEWater in February, 2003, Singapore’s then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said in a speech, “NEWater will be used primarily for non-potable purposes. This is not because it is not clean enough for domestic use, but because its ultra pure characteristic can be put to better use in industries such as wafer fabrication which requires ultra pure water.”

To help people in Singapore get over the psychological barrier of drinking recycled sewerage, more than 650,000 bottles of NEWater have been given out and it is common knowledge in Singapore that it is in the regular water supply.

America having the world’s cleanest water might be a bit tough, especially when you factor in places like Flint, Mi, so how about the cleanest air? Surprisingly, that title is currently held by Kenya. In a report released last year that took into account air pollution, energy consumption and renewable energy production, Kenya topped a list that was dominated by Sub-Saharan African countries as having the cleanest air, but they have also earned the title.

According to The Eco Experts, new houses in Kenya are required by law to have solar panels fitted for hot water and the country is aiming to completely eliminate the use of kerosine by 2020. On top of these steps, Kenya is aiming to cut air pollution by 30% by 2030.

“Kenya’s pledge to reduce carbon by 30 per cent is a great example of how growing countries can build their economies while also reducing the risks they face from climate change,” said UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities & Climate Change Michael Bloomberg. “It also highlights the critical role that the private sector plays in helping countries bridge the gap between ambition and action in confronting climate change.”

If President Trump plans to bring coal-mining jobs to the US, it look like America might miss the boat on that “cleanest air” title, as well. Maybe the USA could just try for general cleanliness, but it’s going to be tough to beat Sweden, a country that is literally running out of rubbish.

Less than 1% of household waste in Sweden ends up in landfill and they have become so good at recycling that they are importing trash from other countries, particularly for use in heating. Furthermore, Sweden was one of the first countries to lay a heavy tax on fossil fuels back in 1991 and now gets half of its energy from renewables.

“Swedish people are quite keen on being out in nature and they are aware of what we need do on nature and environmental issues. We worked on communications for a long time to make people aware not to throw things outdoors so that we can recycle and reuse,” says Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association.

Sweden is also coming up with new ways to deal with trash, such as vacuum systems in apartment blocks linked to underground containers, removing the need for smelly storage areas in the building, as well as transport to collect it.

If Donald Trump wants to take an enormous step backward in environmental protection, but still boasts that the USA can be the cleanest country with the cleanest air and water in the world, perhaps he should look at what the competition is doing first.


Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images