Ireland named fifth-greenest country in global index

2 Apr 2021

Image: © Brian Jackson/

MIT Technology Review ranked 76 countries on their progress towards a green future, and 15 of the top 20 are in Europe.

Ireland has ranked fifth in a new report comparing global economies on their progress and commitment towards a low-carbon future.

MIT Technology Review’s Green Future Index, sponsored by Salesforce, Citrix and Morgan Stanley, examined the progress of 76 countries across five pillars: carbon emissions, energy transition, green society, clean innovation and climate policy.

The report ranked countries based on in-depth research and interviews with global experts on the climate crisis. This year, Ireland has come in fifth place, behind Iceland, Denmark, Norway and France.

The countries ranked lowest were Russia, Iran, Paraguay and Qatar, which all were labelled as “climate abstainers”.

The report predicts that 2020 may be seen as a “defining moment” in our response to the climate emergency.

“The most spectacular display of nature’s force was Covid-19 which, on one hand, raised awareness about the interconnection of biodiversity and habitats with the climate, human health and global prosperity, and on the other created a unique set of circumstances that allowed governments to focus on rebuilding their economies through investment in clean technology, infrastructure, transport and industry.”

Of the top 20 countries in the Green Future Index, 15 were located in Europe. Iceland, which came in first place, aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 and, according to the report, has become a world leader in clean energy production and carbon capture technology.

Denmark, which came in second and is considered a leader in the renewable energy space, agreed last December to stop issuing new oil and gas exploration licences. And in third place, Norway has committed to decoupling its economy from fossil fuels.

The highest-ranking non-European countries were Costa Rica (seventh place) and New Zealand (eighth place), which have both made “major strides” with renewables and decarbonisation in industry and agriculture, the report says.

Ireland, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and the Czech Republic were some of the global leaders in reforestation efforts, and Ireland was also commended for its number of green buildings relative to its urban population.

Last month, the Irish Government approved a revised Climate Action Bill, which includes binding targets on reducing carbon emissions in the country. It says Ireland will commit to “pursue and achieve” carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest and will seek a 51pc reduction in emissions over the next decade on a baseline of 2018.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021