A list by Grist puts Reykjavik (Iceland, in the picture) as number one, followed by Oregon (US) and Curitiba (Brazil). Do you wonder why?
“Reykjavik has been putting hydrogen buses on its streets, and, like the rest of the country, its heat and electricity come entirely from renewable geothermal and hydropower sources and it’s determined to become fossil-fuel-free by 2050.” Oregon gets points for its rural planning, including green building initiatives, biking and running infrastructures. Curitiba, on the other hand, scores 3rd because of sheep (ok, not only). Check out the “Urban Sheep” programme and more in A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions for Curitiba. Good scores also for Malmö (extensive parks and green space), Vancouver (long-term sustainability plans), Bangkok (ideas to recycle cooking oil for biodiesel), … and Freiburg (solar-power, car-free areas, etc).
What is actually the idea behind a green city? Wikipedia tells us that a sustainable city is “a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimization of required inputs of energy, water and food, and waste output of heat, air pollution – CO2, methane, and water pollution.”
Another ranking, this time by OpenTravel.com, goes to the East by giving the first prize to Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates. The city is still under construction, but the plans sound wicked: “The city will be car-free, and public transportation will be based on magnetic vehicles using solar power. The city’s lighting will be activated by responding to pedestrian traffic and mobile phone usage.” It is followed by Harburg (by Hamburg in Germany) and – again – Malmö (Sweden).
Thanks to these innovative cities we can make a list of things which goes beyond Wikipedia: renewable energy use, low consumption, public transport, low pollution, urban sheep, ecological buildings and urban planning, infrastructures for biking and walking, car-free areas and a lot of green space.
And now, in order not to leave you with too much optimism due to these exemplary and inspiring cities, here come the most polluted places on earth: A list by the Time magazine. Out of the ten places mentioned, two are in China, two in India and two in Russia. Pollution is definitely a huge problem which has to be addressed, especially when regarding the economic “runner-up”-nations (BRIC).
Picture courtesy by wili_hybrid, thanks!