….and never more than now were the words of Kermit the Frog so poignant. We live in a world today where the consequences of the things we have done in the past are coming back to haunt us; it may not be The Day After Tomorrow yet, but the effects on our environment are nevertheless very real, and they are happening very fast. What can we do? Like people, some cities take on more responsibility than others, and some just throw their weight around like a bull in the environmental china shop. These are just three of the urban giants doing their bit for our world; from cycle lanes to solar panals; read, be inspired – and go buy a bike!
This Netherlands metropolis might look beautifully old fashioned, but it’s attitude towards the environment is decidedly modern. The most obvious example of this would without doubt be the frankly impressive herd of bikes that trundle up and down its cobbled streets; the Dutch, like their Danish counterparts in Copenhagen, sure do know how to handle a fixed-wheel. But a fully helmeted population alone does not a new global destiny create – Amsterdam know this – so they have put more powerful plans into place; around 700 household now have access to free energy saving appliances as a a result of financing by Dutch bank; from bulbs to roof insulation, Amsterdamers are on course to reduce their emissions by 40% by 2025 – which by anyone’s standards is prettycommendable. The city also plans to install power hookups to recharge electric cars (not that anyone seems to drive!) and solar panels on townhouses. Looks like the city is going to become famous for more than its hydroponic cafe culture!
The new Hamburg Harburg Eco Town is a beacon of progression leading the path for urban environmental development. The unique development has been built from the stagnant remains of a former comb factory and ship building area, and original site is now used as spaces such as studios, warehouse and production fascilities. Materials from the former buildings were re-used wherever possible. The energy usage of the city has been cut by 30% thanks to eco friendly materials, green building techniques, wind turbines, solar powered lighting and green roofs. Yes, it costs money. Yes, it takes work. But cities like Hamburg Harburg are proving that it can be done.
Iceland intends to remove itself from all dependence on fossil fuels by 2050 to become a completely hydrogen based economy. Already, Reykjavik gets energy for hot water, electricity and heat entirely from hydropower and geothermal resources – both of which are handily renewable and completely free of greenhouse gas emissions. Some vehicles even run on hydrogen, including three city buses. Although not nearly as large a city as Hamburg and Amsterdam, Reykjavik’s efforts to reduce its emissions and carbon footprint are commendable as due to its size it is not a city regarded as a major contributor to the problems we as a world face.
Header image source: Travelblog.org