Written by by Meghan Rooney, CNN
U.K. environment minister Michael Gove has binned the likes of China, North Korea and Libya in a bid to come down harder on some of the world’s least-green nations.
The nation was dropped from the ‘Poor Countries’ list at the 31st UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi earlier this month, as part of a sweeping effort to crack down on the worst pollution in the world.
In a 30-minute speech at the annual global convention to modernize environmental laws, Gove praised “the pioneering work of the U.K. and U.S., and the successful enforcement work by NGOs in China and elsewhere” in shaking off seven ‘red flag’ countries, which fell off England’s ‘eradication list.’
Russia, Turkmenistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Bolivia were removed from the ranking, as a result of improved air quality, water availability and recycling, among other indicators.
Poised for an environmental renaissance
The effort follows another round of UNEA talks in New York, where countries around the world gave their hopes for the future of environmental laws, alongside more than 50 heads of state.
While greenism remains on the decline across the world, there is renewed interest in environmentalism in key countries, including the U.K.
“The U.K. is poised for an environmental renaissance thanks to committed government leadership, the threat of global climate change and the emergence of a new generation of environmental leaders,” said James Thornton, CEO of U.K.-based Global Sustainability Fund (GSF), in a statement.
“This is great news for businesses across the world, and for the world as a whole.”
According to a recent survey by the Ecological Footprint Network (EFN), nearly 80% of people in the U.K. believe businesses should take action to reduce the impact of their operations.
Furthermore, small businesses are now responsible for more than a quarter of emissions in the U.K., compared to just 7% in 2010.
China issues new carbon trading scheme
At the UNEA meeting, delegates also agreed to simplify and harmonize national emission reduction schemes, which are already in place in many countries, including the U.K.
China and Russia were praised by Gove and the other British government representatives for being leaders in combating pollution, ahead of a signing ceremony in Beijing on Monday to formally launch the country’s emissions trading scheme.
“This shows the world that countries do — and can — take real action to tackle air pollution,” read a statement from the U.K. government.