At the start of this year, scientists confirmed our planet is continuing to change, reporting its highest temperature on record in 2016 - it is the first time temperatures have broken the previous high three years in a row.
In addition, massive population densities in our world’s cities mean nine out of 10 people on our planet now live where air pollution exceeds World Health Organisation safety limits.
Luckily, governments are acting and our cities are about to look a whole lot greener.
From rooftops and fences to walls, the City of Light is taking urban landscaping to a new level having recently passed a new law that allows everyone and anyone to grow their own garden – with no limitations. As long as you have a permit, Parisians can cultivate greenery in the form of fruit, flowers and vegetables. The mayor of Paris, Anna Hidalgo, aims to create 100 hectares of foliage by the year 2020 – with one third dedicated to agriculture.
The city of Copenhagen wants to be the first carbon neutral capital by 2025
. And they appear to be well on their way to achieving it. With their government investing over one billion DKK in bike lanes and super cycle highways, daily congestion has dramatically dropped and the health of citizens has improved. Now, around 45 percent of Copenhageners bike on their daily commute. Remarkably, since 1995 the city has reduced its carbon emissions by 50 percent.
Madrid and Paris are preparing to bid farewell to diesel vehicles in their city centres for good - aiming to be diesel-car free by 2025. Diesel fuel is known to be a key cause of air pollution in cities, producing nitrogen dioxide, a harmful gas, and tiny particulates that can damage our lungs. The city of Olso in Norway has already committed to be being car-free by 2019.
Holland has long been associated with wind power and across the country, windmills turn with ease. So too do their electric trains in fact. Recently, one of the country’s national railway companies, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), announced that every one of its electric trains will be powered by wind energy.
It is easy to see why the German city of Essen took the title from Bristol in England to be crowned the European Green Capital Award for 2017
. By incorporating multi-functional green areas to encourage rainwater management, help with flood prevention and groundwater recharge, their dedicated efforts to reduce water consumption didn’t gone unnoticed. A plan to prevent rainwater entering their combined sewer network also impressed the judging panel.