What defines a city as being green? Is it being environmentally friendly and taking care of its flora, or is it by providing its residents with the best facilities? Here we will discuss the numerous cities in Europe that claim they’re “the greenest”!
The winner of 2016’s European Green Capital, Ljubljana has been mentioned almost everywhere if you do an internet search for “green city in Europe”. They won due to the transformation of their traffic with a focus on public transportation and providing cycling roads. Three-quarters of Ljubljana are green areas, filled with contiguous aquatic, forest and agricultural areas. They also declared a total of 1400 hectares as a forest that is designed to become a CO2 sink.
Although London might not be the first city to come to mind when thinking of green cities, mainly due to the city’s smog, it is credited to be one of the greenest cities according to Cities Digest. This is mainly due to the fact that they have started to take quite drastic measures to fight pollution. The government decided to start fighting pollution and plans on becoming carbon-free within the next decade. London has lots of green spaces, in the shapes of parks, nature reserves and wildlife habit among others. The government is actively investing in renewable energy sources, and you can already find plenty of hybrid buses on the streets.
With over 450 kilometres of bike lanes, Copenhagen won European Green Capital in the year of 2014. Their aim is to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, which is one of the reasons they really promote cycling. Its aim was to have 50% on bicycles by 2015, and now around 45% of people go to work or school on a bicycle.
Vienna is well known for its initiatives in their water usages. According to the European Green City Index, Vienna is ranked second thanks to its water treatment policies and efficiency. It is collected through mountain springs by taking advantage of the altitude difference between the mountain and the city and with the gravitational energy from this process, it is also used to hone electricity power.
Hamburg was the winner for European Green Capital in the year of 2011. Hamburg had an ambitious goal of reducing their CO2 emission by 40% in 2020. Compared to the time it was 1990, Hamburg has successfully reduced its carbon emission by 15% when they won the award, alongside also achieving a total of 46.000 mWh in power savings. Within 300 meters, it is possible for its residents to access public transport and have optimal accessibility to green areas.
The notable green efforts of Zurich is its recycling and also the people’s waste output. According to the European Green City Index, Zurich’s inhabitants’ waste production per head weighs 406 kg whilst the average is 511 kg. Their recycling rate of 34% is almost double the average rate of 18% amongst other cities. It is also the sixth lowest city in the European Green City Index in terms of CO2 emissions.
The winner of European Green Capital 2010, Stockholm is known for having almost everyone cycling or walking to work. 70% of its residents are reported to be cyclists. As the first city ever to win the European Green Capital, one of its achievements was reducing greenhouse gas emission successfully by 25% since 1990, and most of its buses are using renewable fuel, hopefully bidding farewell to fossil fuels by 2020. They plan to make the city entirely fossil fuel free by 2050, focussing on waste recycling. In the European Green City Index, it’s usually seen in at least the top 3 in every category.
Rated by European Green City Index as the 1st city to preserve CO2 emissions, Oslo did a great job in harnessing its alternative and renewable energy as the source of fuel for its public transportations. Due to the efficiency of their fossil fuel use, they are considered the number 1 city in terms of energy even though they are quite high in regards to consuming energy. Next to that Oslo protects their nature, as two-thirds of Oslo are protected areas.
Helsinki is known for having great recycling processes. This is not also reducing pollution but helps to fulfil the energy needs of the city in a more environmentally friendly way. Next, to that many citizens of Helsinki choose to cycle or walk, further reducing pollution.
Last but not least, Amsterdam ranked as one of the best cities in terms of its water, transportation and also waste and land use in the European Green City Index. There are a huge number of pedestrian zones and cycle paths making walking or cycling the biggest means of transport in this city by 38 %, next in line is its public transport at 24% which includes bus, tram, canal boats and local trains. 43% of waste is recycled and used as fuel for their city bus network. Next to all that we find more electric cars on the streets of Amsterdam, as they have over 300 charging stations. Even though Amsterdam has a worthy amount of water to its name, its water consumption is only 53 cubic meters per inhabitant annually whereas the average water consumption is 105 cubic meters.
Which city is the greenest? You decide!