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The Greenest Cities in the World

Parisa Pouramn

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What makes a city green? Factors such as recycling, renewable energy, transportation options, building construction, air quality and emissions make green cities great, and thankfully more and more are jumping on the green wagon. But at the end of the day, there’s a clear difference between the cities who are making an effort to go green, and those who aren’t.

Here are some cities to check out that are doing their part to lead us on the global path to a greener future:

greenest cities in the world - tree

Copenhagen, Denmark

Working towards the goal of being the first CO2 neutral capital before 2025 comes with a lot of necessary changes. Lots of bikes (electric and manual), organic eats (17% of total food available), clean water, sustainable buildings and hotels (over 70% of total), lots of green space and fewer cars are just a few of the ways Copenhagen is killing it at the top of the green cities list.

greenest cities in the world - Copenhagen

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Parks, castles, markets – Ljubljana is like an Eastern European fairy-tale city, but amongst the old world charm there’s a lot of new and exciting developments afoot. For years it’s been ranked in the top spots for green initiatives, and currently has 12 areas of focus including transport, pedestrians, waste management and public transportation.

They’re very proud of their gorgeous parks, trees and bird species, and have made so many environmental improvements in such a short amount of time. Awesome features such as a free bicycle borrowing system and free electric cart transport in the city centre make getting around super-green and super cheap, too.

greenest cities in the world - Ljubljana

Bristol, England

As the UK’s 8th biggest city, and with a steadily growing economy, Bristol is set on making its mark, not only in the UK, but in Europe as well. The next five years will see a huge focus on transportation and renewable energy in the city, as well as a goal of doubling the number of cyclists in that time as well. Bristol is becoming a hub for jobs in low carbon sectors, and their environmental commitment stretches past the next 5 years as well, with detailed plans set in place until 2030.

greenest cities in the world - Bristol

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is pleasant for so many reasons – it’s mild, it’s stunning and it leads the way for forward thinking and environmental awareness in North America. Residents are very pro walking and cycling, and government/ building bylaws have been designed with greenness in mind.

It’s often considered to be one of the most liveable cities in the world, and if that isn’t enough, it’s working towards being powered entirely by renewable energy by the year 2050. Maybe the West Coast really is the best coast…

greenest cities in the world - Vancouver

San Francisco, USA

California is a pretty green state, and San Francisco is definitely the cherry on the pie. All new city construction sites are subject to strict green building practices. San Fran is VERY pro-compost and recycling, and their baseball stadium was the first of its kind to feature solar panels. Being waste-free is high on their priority list for the future, and it’s not just a dream, they see it as completely attainable. San Francisco performs well in all green city categories, and leads the way nationwide in America.

greenest cities in the world - San Francisco

Reykjavik, Iceland

It’s one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, but it’s arguably the best as far as greenness goes. Geothermal heating is responsible for almost all heating in Reykjavik, and what makes it so amazing is that it’s renewable, and the largest system of its kind in the world.  Hydrogen energy is also huge in Reykjavik, and the city is a global hub for renewable energy research. Public green spaces are practically everywhere, and it is amongst the safest cities in the world as well.

greenest cities in the world - Reykjavik

Bogota, Colombia

Agro-tourism is huge in Colombia, and farming and wildlife are an integral part of the country’s economy. Bogota specifically has come a long way towards becoming a better city, and its green efforts are only part of the story.  Crippling traffic and pollution have been a serious issue for years in the city, and one of the main areas of focus for greener solutions. Generally improved and more accessible buses, more bus and bike lanes, pedestrian friendly and car free areas are just some of the actions put in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Urban vegetation and animal trafficking are also focus points that Bogota is prioritizing for immediate improvement.

greenest cities in the world - Bogota

Melbourne, Australia

As the second biggest city in Australia and the cultural capital, Melbourne’s carbon neutral goal is also set at 2020. Most Melbournians live in high rise buildings and programs are in place to manage energy, recycling and waste in those residences. Cool roofs and green roofs and walls are a big initiative. Car free and pro-bicycle areas are becoming more prominent in the core as well, and the city’s canopy is set to double by 2040.

greenest cities in the world - melbourne

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