The World’s 10 Greenest Cities

Published January 28, 2015
Updated January 2, 2015

While many in the world are still throwing their soda cans out of the car window, the Scandinavians are leading the green movement globally. According to a Green Global Economy Index report published in 2014, four of the top ten greenest cities are located in Scandinavia.

Cities were judged by their leadership on climate change, transportation, green investments and environmental capital. Part of the in-depth inspection of 60 countries and 70 cities includes analysis of how these nations and cities are developing more environmentally-friendly economies. The goal, of course, is to provide cities, countries, leaders and investors with information on how their green efforts stack up in relation to others, and what they might do to improve upon existing policies and planning.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Greenest Cities Copenhagen

Nyhavn canal as seen from Kongens Nytorv square Source: Wikimedia

According to the Green Global Economy Index, the world’s greenest city is Copenhagen. The city’s municipal policy is to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% before the end of 2015. Copenhagen already has large-scale public transportation and is bicycle-friendly, but that’s not enough. Even architects have jumped on the green bandwagon, planning and installing green roofs, efficient waste management systems and rainwater recycling systems.

Greenest Cities Copenhagen Park

Source: Pixabay

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Canals

Source: Pixabay

Amsterdam’s small size, accessibility and bike parking make it easier to get around on two wheels than four, which limits a good chunk of the city’s emissions. A whopping one million-plus bicycles populate the 1.5 million-person city, which does cause bicycle congestion. But that doesn’t deter city planners from continuing research on green initiatives, like becoming the first “smart” city. The plan will help Amsterdam manage energy consumption and reduce pollution.

Amsterdam Night

Source: Wikimedia

3. Stockholm, Sweden

Greenest Cities Stockholm

Source: Pixabay

Stockholm was the first European city to win the European Green Capital Award in 2010 because of its innovation and connection to the environment. Since 1990, the city has reduced its carbon emissions by 25% and plans to be fossil fuel free by 2050.

Greenest Cities Stockholm Park

Source: Pixabay

4. Vancouver, Canada

Greenest Cities Vancouver

Source: Wikimedia

Vancouver has some of the highest housing costs in North America, but they give you access to one of the most energy efficient cities on the planet, with 93% of the electricity used in the city generated from sustainable resources. Vancouver plans to take Copenhagen’s spot on this list by 2020 with an ambitious plan that increases green spaces and reduces waste.

Greenest Cities Vancouver Train

Source: Wikimedia

5. London, England

Greenest Cities London Eye

Source: Wikimedia

While London might be known for being foggy, soon that will have less to do with thickets of smog-emitting smokestacks and more with Mother Nature. The city is trying to clean up its industrialized image by adding “pocket parks” in small inner-city areas and building rooftop gardens. London is also bicycle-friendly and provides convenient public transportation.

Susan Sims
When she's not fighting crime or cleaning the garbage disposal, you can find Susan writing about travel, science and things that go bump in the night.
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