How Green Is My City?
It’s funny how times change. A city slicker of our time could not possibly imagine the life in the big city before the industrial revolution. Imagine, roads packed with horse drawn carriages, with their bells ringing rather then car horns; people fanning themselves with fancy hand-fans in summer and fireplaces casting their warm glow in winter. These cities were definitely more boring then today’s megalopolis, with their snarling traffic, grey polluted skies and air conditioners and heaters spewing green gases.
With the world drowning in the smoky haze of pollution and roasting in the phenomenon we call global warming, it’s heartwarming to hear about the cities that are striving to stay green. Green cities get their reputation by introducing emission reducing methods like hybrid public transport, citizens bicycling to work, planting trees and building parks, encouraging green building codes etc.
There are always skeptics who don’t believe there is such a thing as a green city. But we can list a few of those who defy the popular belief and have come up green against the tide. Be warmed, there is some discrepancy regarding some cities, and some lists have names that perhaps no one has ever heard of. Let’s stick to the big names that everyone recognizes and have made some great contributions to the green movement.
Let’s start with a well known place – Portland, Oregon in the U.S. The city earns its place on the list, owing to a comprehensive plan to make the city eco friendly, which includes green buildings, green transit systems and investment in green spaces.
Next we shift from the bustling city to a much less know place –Reykjavik in Iceland. Ok, so recently, Iceland was in the news for all the wrong reasons. However, Reykjavik boats of many unique steps which earns itself a place on this list. The buses on its streets actually run on honest to goodness hydrogen. It does have an advantage over the other places, owing to its volcanic origin – the numerous hot springs and geysers in the country. Kudos to the city and the country for tapping into this resource so aggressively, that their government assumes they stop using fossil fuel in another 40 years.
If this list extended to top 20 cities, Sweden will have multiple candidates. But let’s pick one of the largest cities in the country, Malmö. Its natural greenery has been added with vast green spaces, eco-friendly neighborhoods and buildings to go with it.
Talking about Brazil brings to mind soccer, music, fun and color. But when we talk about Curitiba, it also brings to mind a mind bogglingly smart bus system. Unlike most bus systems around the globe, this one almost as efficient as the London underground – the routes run frequently, free of traffic lights or intersections – making it the most preferred mode of transport, keeping the streets clear of polluting vehicles. The city also boasts of parks that are mowed by, hold your breath people – SHEEP! Yes, despite their methane emissions, Curitiba maintains a flock of 30 sheep that definitely uses less fuel than its mechanical counterparts.
Canada steps in to the list with Vancouver. Apart from its natural beauty, the city is also green in other ways – it’s practically runs on water, air and sun. It’s a front runner in harnessing hydroelectric power, wind mills, solar panels and even tidal energy. The city also boasts more parkland that buildings and has more fresh air than many places.
There ends the top five in no particular order. Other cities that can make the score include Copenhagen, Denmark which boasts of super efficient public transport system, encourages biking and its waterways are clean to drink from. Then we have San Francisco, London, Sydney, Barcelona, Bangkok – big names trying their best to keep their city by introducing number of eco-friendly measures.
So, are you living in a green city? Do you want to know what can make your city just as green as these? These are only a few of the cities that have taken measures to become more eco-friendly. It’s easy to green your city – just let your government know that you want your city to be green! If these other cities can do it, then so can you
By Maria Belgado