Scandinavian nations continue to enjoy a disproportionate presence amongst the world’s greenest cities.
Washington DC-based environmental consultancy DualCitizenLLC has released the fourth edition of its Global Green Economy Index, which assesses the environment and sustainability accomplishments of 60 countries and 70 cities around the world, as well as the way these accomplishments are perceived amongst industry experts.
Scandinavia is prominently represented amongst the world's 10 greenest cities, with four entries on the list situated in the northernmost part of Europe.
The Danish capital takes first place on the list with its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025 as well as urban planning which is more amenable to cyclists and pedestrians than gas-guzzling automobiles. Copenhagen's crowning position should come as no surprise, given Denmark's leading role in the global wind power sector.
Urban planning is also critical to the green credibility of the second place holder on the list, Amsterdam. The city's outstanding bike infrastructure, which includes extensive racks, parking and designated pathways, is a big part of the reason why bicycles outnumber urban residents.
Coordinated environment planning has a history of over three decades in Stockholm, enabling it to become the winner of the inaugural European Green Capital Award. The city possesses an abundance of green space, and aspires to be entirely fossil fuel-free by mid-century.
Despite its large population and exorbitant property costs, the city is the cleanest in all of Canada. Earlier this year, Vancouver launched its Greenest City 2020 initiative, which aspires to transform the west coast metropolis into the greenest city in the world by means of a set of measurable and attainable targets.
Leaving its long-standing image of a soot-laden, smog-shrouded metropolis far behind it, London has emerged as one of the greenest cities in the Eurozone, launching concerted efforts to increase its green spaces as well as cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
As the greenest city on the European mainland, the German capital of Berlin is striving to reduce its carbon footprint with the establishment of an Environmental Zone at the centre of the city, to which access is only granted to vehicles beneath certain emissions thresholds.
7. New York
The Big Apple is now considered the greenest large-scale metropolis in the United States. Manhattan is extremely well-served by its extensive metro system, in stark contrast to the heavy vehicle dependency that characterises other major cities in North America such as Los Angeles. As a consequence, New York's greenhouse gas emissions are comparatively low for a city with its exorbitant population size.
Since transforming itself into a first world economy, the South-east Asian city-state has taken pain to clean up the severe pollution caused by its earlier phase of industrial development. The city launched the Singapore Green Plan in 1992 to address pollution on all fronts, including land, water and air, and currently aspires to produce zero waste for landfills by mid-century.
The Finnish capital has implemented programs to shore up its energy efficiency since the late 1950s, and also launched a bold Sustainability Action Plan as early as 1992.
The Norwegian capital is the fourth Scandinavian city amongst the world's 10 greenest cities, making the list on the back of its Strategy for Sustainable Development, which encompasses concerted efforts to preserve the city's natural surroundings, including a Green Belt Boundary which is off limits to urban development.