Going green and being eco-friendly, they are two things that don't typically go hand-in-hand with the world's big cities... or do they? With more than half of the world's population living in cities, the time to adapt and 'go green' has definitely come! So here are the five cities that are proving it is possible to be sustainable and be a huge metropolis!
Flickr | Ophelia photos
No sustainable city list would be complete without a mention of Reykjavik. With its target of being entirely free of fossil fuels by 2050, it seems that the city is well on its way to reaching its admirable aim. Geothermal energy already powers all of the buildings in the city and only around 0.1% of Iceland's electricity is actually generated by fossil fuels. Based on the many successes that Reykjavik has already made, the city is standing miles ahead of every other metropolis thanks to the fact that it is the only one in the world that has developed a district wide heating and electrical system that runs nearly entirely on renewable energy. In fact, Reykjavik is almost entirely energy independent of fossil fuels, which has got to give it a safe positioning at the top of the green city list!
Flickr | Mathieu Bertrand Struck
Curitiba is an ideal example of how a large city can remain sustainable even during periods of immense growth. Despite the fact that nearly 2 million people now live within the confines of the city, the government has worked hard to expand the amount of green space per resident, it has created an effective public transport system that is used on a regular basis by around 72% of the population and more than 1.5 million trees have been recently planted. Not only this but the city also recycles over 50% of its paper, metal, glass and plastic and the one initiative that the city is probably most famous for is its programme in which residents can exchange their rubbish for bus tickets and/or vegetables, something that has proved immensely popular and beneficial amongst the poorest of the residents.
Flickr | CTG/SF
Freiburg is a glistening example of exactly what a sustainable, green city should look like. Perhaps most famous for the fact that it is car free, the city has been paving the way for a sustainable future since the 1970s. As a result of its relentless waste program, 70% of waste is now recovered and reused across Germany and in Freiburg specifically, the waste disposal was reduced by 90,000 tons in just 12 years! Despite already achieving a number of sustainable goals, the city doesn't want to stop any time soon; in 2007 it set a target to reduce its CO2 emissions by 40% before 2030, in 2014 it updated this target to 50% and it now wants to make 100% of its energy from renewable sources before 2050.
Flickr | barnyz
Known for its goal of becoming the world's first CO2 neutral capital by 2025, with its determined inhabitants, clean waters and green spaces it is easy to believe that Copenhagen will achieve this aim. The city boasts an offshore windfarm along its coastline and in 2000 it launched a new metro system that was proposed to make public transport more efficient. Prior to this, back in 1995 Copenhagen established itself as one of the first cities to launch free city bikes for its inhabitants and as it stands now, there are more bikes than citizens and only 29% of households actually have a car!
Flickr | Jonathan
Oslo is leading the way for sustainable living and it definitely deserves the title of being a green city. Oslo has already convinced a large portion of its population to purchase electric vehicles by implementing a number of incentives that include access to bus lanes, free parking and low tax costs. And it isn't just transport related, when it comes to energy use Oslo is also steaming ahead with 80% of its heating system being powered by renewable energy and hopes that this could be expanded to allow the city to reach 100% renewable usage in the near future. And Oslo doesn't want to stop there, alongside these other two city wide programs it also has a fantastic system in place that converts household waste into energy that can be harnessed and reused! With just one of its cities implementing so many different sustainable (and more importantly, successful) plans, it looks likely that Norway will reach its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Of course, becoming a green city is a unique challenge - with high volumes of people, traffic congestion and a wide number of pollution sources it is definitely no easy battle but these five cities have proven in more ways than one that sustainability is achievable by making a few small, but significant, lifestyle changes!
Read our tips on how you can make your own lifestyle more eco-friendly.
If you would like to make a positive difference to our environment, check out Frontier's environment conservation projects.
By Shannon Clark - Online Journalism Intern
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