Where are the greenest cities in the world? Who rides the most bikes, has the cleanest air, uses the least coal and produces the least waste? While experts disagree about who should claim the No. 1 spot – some say Copenhagen, Denmark, while others argue that it could be Singapore or San Francisco – there are a number of cities that are undeniably leading the pack when it comes to maintaining good eco credentials. Why not consider them for your next city break?
Scandinavian cities have a well-deserved reputation for being green, and the gorgeous city of Oslo is among the greenest. Sustainable practices and targets have been part of the city’s planning since well before environmental initiatives became mandatory or commonplace. Despite Oslo being the most heavily populated city in Norway, the government is particularly focused on protecting natural areas from development.
Portland, Oregon, USA
Portland has built up quite a reputation for being a eco-conscious place to live – the city council have invested heavily in green building initiatives, efficient public transport systems and bike lanes to keep CO2 emissions down. And while we might not tend to think of the USA as a green pioneer, other US cities are making huge strides too – check out this Alinta Energy report on a pioneering new form of rubbish collection in Chicago.
A strong contender for the cleanest city in the world, this beautiful Northern European city is surprisingly green in colour (don’t let the name fool you!) as well as in its attitude to sustainability. Due to its geographical location, Iceland is able to source 100% of its heat and electricity from geothermal and hydropower sources and it has set itself a target of becoming fossil fuel-free by 2050.
When you read the title of this list, you probably weren’t expecting to see a South American city here, but Bogotá – despite having high rates of crime and a large number of slums – is putting many European cities to shame. Its accessibility and sustainability is virtually second to none – and it all began with one inspirational mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, who was famously quoted as saying: “An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport.” When in charge of the city from 1998 to 2001, Peñalosa established an efficient bus network, commissioned almost 200 miles of bike trails and restored over 1,000 urban green spaces.
We return to Scandinavia for the final city on our (by no means exhaustive) list. As well as being known for its socially progressive attitudes, the country has tons of environmentally forward-thinking initiatives, including plans to reduce CO2 emissions to a maximum of three tonnes per head by the end of 2015. It is ranked second in the European Green City Index.