• What are the World’s Greenest Cities?

Green Energy

What are the World’s Greenest Cities?

Aug 23 2015

Due to the lack of comprehensive and consistent data on such an ambiguous term as “green”, it’s hard to nail down a final leaderboard of the world’s eco-friendly cities. What should be taken into account? Well, among other things, the factors considered should include:

  • Emissions per capita
  • Air quality
  • Water quality
  • Percentage of total journeys made by public transport
  • Biodiversity
  • Number of green spaces
  • Recycling efficiency
  • Noise pollution
  • Electricity use per capita
  • Waste generation per capita
  • Water consumption per capita

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the criteria necessary for determining whether or not a city is “green” and how it compares to other cities in a ranking system. Is it fair to even rank all cities evenly? Should highly developed countries be treated the same as developing ones?

With this confusion in mind, below are a handful of some of the greenest cities in the world, with justifications for why they are considered to be so. However, it’s nigh on impossible to declare which, if any, trumps all others – nor to explain why some deserve to be on this list ahead of others.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Can green energy meet all of the world’s power needs? Leonardo DiCaprio certainly seems to think so, anyway, and it hasn’t been working out too badly for the Icelandic capital, either. At the time of writing, geothermal energy accounts for the vast majority of Reykjavik’s power, while only 0.1% of its energy comes from fossil fuels. Iceland aims to be completely free of fossil fuels by 2050 – which seems like a conservative estimate. You’re almost there, Iceland!

Curitiba, Brazil

This green powerhouse in the south of Brazil boasts an impressive 16 parks, 14 forests and well over 1,000 green areas dotted around the city’s environs. Despite its sizable population of 1.75 million (easily bigger than the UK’s second biggest city, Birmingham), it still offers its citizens 52m2 of green space to frolic in, making it one of the most effectively urban planned green cities on the planet.


This city-state is head and shoulders above the rest of Asia when it comes to environmental policy, especially in places like China, where power plants emit as much NOX as all the passenger cars in the world combined. In 1992, Singapore introduced the Singapore Green Plan to tackle the problem of air and water pollution head on. They hope to eliminate landfill waste completely by 2050.

San Francisco

As the first city in the USA to ban the plastic bag, San Francisco has always been a frontrunner for forward-thinking when it comes to environmental technology. In October 2009, they signalled their intention to improve their green performance even further by imposing mandatory recycling, which has led to a waste reclamation rate of 77%, which is easily the highest of any city in the USA. The current drought which has endured for the last four years has also forced Californians to conserve their water and think outside of the box when it comes to using the Earth’s resources.



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