Top 3 Greenest Cities in the World
Let's talk about the greenest cities in the world. In the UK, the move towards more sustainable infrastructure seems agonisingly slow, but there are some places that already seem to have nailed it. What have they done to lower their carbon emissions and pollution? How could we follow suit?
(Note that we have included - in our opinion - the main sustainable features of each city and not the full list. We've linked all our sources for further reading).
3. Stockholm, Sweden
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the world's third greenest city is in Scandinavia. Sweden's capital, Stockholm, aims to stop using fossil fuels in the city by 2040 but have already made huge strides towards sustainability.
- Excellently maintained public transport (subway, trams, commuter trains)
- Bio-fueled taxis and buses
- Sustainable transport from the airport to downtown Stockholm
- 900km of cycle lanes along with a community bicycle program for renting
- Stockholm Arlanda airport holds an environmental certification
- The above mentioned bio-fuel is generated from sewage and is available at petrol stations around the city
- They city can reuse wasted heat from its 30,000 seat stadium; enough to help warm over 1000 flats more sustainably
- Very high rates of recycling and machines throughout the country which give money in exchange for products to recycle
- Stockholm government's own operations are powered by 100% renewable sources
- Almost 80% of all hotels in Stockhold are sustainably accredited
- The city's tap water is one of the cleanest in the world, meaning bottled water is unneccesary
- Government-led initiatives that make sustainable living choices easier and more attractive
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
A stone's throw away is our second greenest city, Amsterdam. It was in fact one of the first to outline sustainability measures and today hosts more bicycles than residents. It has ambitious goals to increase sustainability, including aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 55% in 2030 and 95% in 2050; phase out natural gas use by 2040; and be emissions free by 2030.
- Cycling is the best and most popular way to travel in the city
- Electric vehicle charging stations all over
- Amsterdam's airport transports passengers on electric vehicles
- KLM has committed to buying sustainable fuel in a bid to reduce emissions
- The Port of Amsterdam will stop handling coal by 2030, the only port in the world to make such a promise, the goal being to "inspire and attract companies that are focused on clean energy"
- Amsterdam's Fashion for Good tackles clothing waste ending up in landfill by scaling polyester recycling technologies in a bid to decarbonise the industry
- Zero-energy construction is encouraged
- 80% of Amsterdam's energy is generated by solar and wind energy
- Expanding the project of utilising every suitable roof in the city to install solar panels
- Amsterdammers can get free energy advice and can request grants or low-cost loans to pay for sustainable projects
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Consistently rated the most eco-friendly city in the world is Copenhagen. Not only is it set to become the first CO2 neutral city by 2025, it's also recognised as one of the best places to live in a country known as one of the happiest places on earth. Could this be mere coincidence?
- Most people travel by bike since it is the cheapest and easiest way around the city
- in 2016, bikes outnumbered cars for the first time, a milestone accompanied by the goal to become car free within a decade
- All buses are electric
- £115m invested in cycling infrastructure with bike and pedestrian only bridges
- Wind turbines have been installed in the city - residents' qualms about living close to them was answered by the opportunity to buy turbine shares with tax-free profits
- Copenhill - turns waste into energy to supply tens of thousands of homes and businesses (it is also covered by a year-round artificial ski and snowboard slope)
- In the city, residents recycle through vending-style machines which return a deposit when you bin a can or plastic cup
- 24% of total food sale in the city is organic and 88% of food served in public organisations is organic too
- Copenhagen has one of the world's strongest quality assurance tests for clean tap water
One of the most obvious takeaways to draw from these three cities is the importance of reliable public transport systems and alternatives to cars. London might have some of this infrastructure already in place, but outside of the capital there has been minimal improvement and public transport prices are only going up.
Another standout from the research is the provision of incentives to encourage recycling etc. Copenhagen's wind turbine investment scheme is really interesting and seems to have worked in getting the locals on board. On a more basic level, better recycling infrastructure should be an easy implementation for the UK and yet there are still reports that it just ends up abroad anyway. It's not hard to see why some people are asking, what's the point?
What it all boils down to is a government investing the money and expertise into improving the sustainability of their cities and making the green way of living the easiest and cheapest thing to do. Here's hoping we can shift that way in the UK before it's too late.