New Zealand:

New Zealand has long had a reputation for being "clean and green" and has a proud record of conservation, with around 30% of its total land area being protected from development. Last week it announced bold plans [PDF] to tackle climate change, following up on a goal set by prime minister Helen Clark at the start of the year for New Zealand to become the world’s first carbon neutral country.

Among the stated targets, to be legislated within the next year, is generating 90% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025. … New Zealand is well ahead of the game, with close to 70% of its power already coming from renewables …

What’s more it expects its electricity sector to be entirely carbon neutral by 2025, followed by the stationary energy sector (coal and gas) in 2030 and the transport sector in 2040. It laid out a range of ways to achieve those targets, such a net increase in forest area of 250,000 hectares by 2020 and the wide use of electric cars. …

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An emissions trading scheme (ETS) will begin in January, but not all sectors of the economy will be required to join at first. Forestry will be first away next year, followed by liquid fossil fuels in 2009, stationary energy and industrial emitters in 2010 and agriculture (which unusually is responsible for nearly half of the country’s emissions, thanks to what’s politely known as cow and sheep "belch") in 2013. That reportedly makes it the first country to attempt a cap and trade scheme across all sectors and all greenhouse gases.

In other news, "New Zealand gets top ranking in life satisfaction because of its strong civil liberties, and because people here are healthy, have strong communities and lots of leisure time."

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