The jig is up, kids. Like toddlers who have been given free run of the sandpit for too long, we’ve run amok, creating more environmental problems than you can shake a (pesticide covered) stick at. The world definitely needs saving, and this time, we’re going to need more than a man in tights and a cape to get the job done. Here’s our run down of the cities doing the most for our environmental future…
Portland, Oregon, U.S
With a nickname like the ‘City of Roses’, Portland has already set itself up for a life of green living. It was the first US city to enact a full plan to reduce CO2 emissions and continues to agressively create green building initiatives, with a comprehensive system of light rail, buses and bike lanes in place to keep cars off the road. There’s also 92,000 acres of green space and more than 74 miles of hiking and biking trails. Well done Portland.
Rather ambitiously – and certainly admirably – Iceland intends to remove itself from all dependence on fossil fuels by 2050 to become a completely hydrogen based economy. It already gets energy for hot water, electricity and heat entirely from hydropower and geothermal resources – both of which are renewable and completely free of greenhouse gas emissions. Their city buses even run on hydrogen alone! Reykjavik’s efforts to reduce its emissions and carbon footprint are especially commendable as its not even a city regarded as a major contributor to the problems the planet faces. They’re sort of the global equivalent of that friend you had at school who was nice as well as pretty. Are you taking notes, world?
Curitiba’s parks famously enjoy an army of lawnmowers in the form of a flock or 30 sheep – now that’s what we call a natural solution! Citizens also enjoy a bus system hailed as one of the world’s best and about three-quarters of its residents rely on public transport. There’s also around 580 square feet of green space per inhabitant.
All that mountain and sea is very dramatic, but can Vancouver back up its natural affinity with nature? Drawing 90 percent of its power from renewable sources, British Columbia’s biggest city has been a leader in hydroelectric power and is now on course to use wind, solar, wave, and tidal energy to significantly reduce fossil-fuel use. The metro area boasts 200 parks and over 18 miles of waterfront, and has developed a 100-year plan for sustainability – well done Canada.
The most obvious example of Amsterdams attitudes towards environmental issues would without doubt be the 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.