Going Green: Top Cities That Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly

Going Green: Top Cities That Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly

0 0
Read Time:4 Minute, 51 Second

With the worsening of wildfires, floods, and other disasters as a result of climate change, sustainability is an important focus, now more than ever. While there are ways that individuals can make changes to minimize their own carbon footprints, a more effective approach is to make citywide changes. These changes can also cause inhabitants as a whole to make greener changes, enhancing the effect of each of these choices. Cities account for about 85% of global GDP generation, as well as accounting for 7% of natural resource consumption. A “linear economy” is where finite resources are used to create products that are not used to their full potential, and then are discarded. In contrast, a “circular economy” prioritizes waste elimination and reuse of products, and aims to regenerate nature. Cities that strive to be more sustainable generally try to have a more circular economy.

A Greener Future

Retrieved from: https://www.enel.com/company/stories/articles/2016/09/el-hierro-island-renewables-treasure

El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, became the only island in the world to function on solely renewable energy (wind and solar power) for 28 consecutive days. It also has a goal to run on entirely renewable energy by 2050. The island has made a push for sustainability and self-sufficiency since its drought in 1948 caused by ships failing to get water to the city. In 2015, the city managed to use renewable sources for its energy for two straight hours for the first time, and this has increased drastically over time, leading to its eventual achievement of functioning for 28 straight days on only renewable energy sources.

Copenhagen in Denmark is considered the top eco-friendly city in the world and is predicted to be the first carbon-neutral capital city in the world by 2025. The city continually invests in green alternatives, and the citizens tend to make green choices. Most people get around by cycling rather than using a vehicle, and about a quarter of food sales are organic produce. It has become increasingly commonplace to add solar panels to new buildings, increasing the renewable energy use in the city. All new buildings constructed must abide by new “Low Energy Class” ratings. It is also estimated that 75% of trips in the city will be on foot, by bike, or by using public transit and that 20-30% of the cars in the city will run on electricity or biofuel by 2025. Copenhagen’s urban planning authorities continually prioritize sustainability, implementing sustainable drainage systems, more efficient waste management, and recycling rainwater. 

Doughnut Theory

The “doughnut theory”, a model originally developed by economist Kate Raworth, related to the circular economy mentioned above, puts forward that the doughnut is a space that is both ecologically safe and socially just. The theory explores the idea that there is a certain social floor and ecological ceiling, and that the “doughnut” is the space between them where society can thrive. This theory has been introduced to over 70 cities worldwide, including Amsterdam.

The first city to introduce the doughnut economic model was Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. The city is well-known for its implementation of measures to increase sustainability, with an aim to accomplish its goal of being emission-free by 2030 and entirely circular by 2050. Amsterdam has a major cycling culture, this being the inhabitants’ main form of transportation. Additionally, charging ports for electric vehicles are being added and increased, to encourage those who live in Amsterdam to see electric vehicles as a better option as opposed to gas vehicles. Similar to Copenhagen, solar panels are becoming increasingly common, and homeowners are starting to install them on roofs. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly common for inhabitants to grow their own food or purchase from local farmers’ markets. 

Long-term Plans

There are many strategies that cities can implement to lower resource consumption, as well as to incentivize inhabitants of the city to make more green choices in order to create a culture where people tend to make more environmentally sustainable choices as a whole, creating a larger impact compared to just individual people making greener choices. This is seen in cities such as Amsterdam, where cycling is common and a minority of people choose to use cars over cycling, walking, or public transportation. 

In the long term, there are many things that cities can do to be more sustainable. By taking inspiration from the most sustainable cities, and by implementing ideas involved in the doughnut economic mode, less eco-friendly cities can learn how to lower their impact on the environment as well as become a better place to live.

References

Copenhagen City of Architecture. (n.d.). https://web.archive.org/web/20131203051027/http://kk.sites.itera.dk/apps/kk_pub2/pdf/961_BLdBaJTGzV.pdf

Cities and the circular economy. (n.d.). https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/cities-and-the-circular-economy-deep-dive

Euronews. (2023, December 11). Powered by wind and water: The Canary Island proving it is possible to run on renewables. Euronews. https://www.euronews.com/green/2023/12/08/powered-by-wind-and-water-the-canary-island-proving-it-is-possible-to-run-on-renewables

Guyon, S. (2023, June 20). Circular Economy and doughnut economics. Energy Cities. https://energy-cities.eu/circular-economy-and-doughnut-economics/

Hazlegreaves, S. (2020, August 19). Top 10 eco-friendly cities around the world. Open Access Government. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/top-10-eco-friendly-cities-around-the-world/53998/

Nordvand – Vi gør plads til regnvandet. (n.d.). https://web.archive.org/web/20150729044059/http://nordvand.dk/klimatilpasning/Sider/default.aspx

Sustainability in Amsterdam | I amsterdam. (n.d.). I Amsterdam. https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/conventions/key-sectors/sustainability

Wikipedia contributors. (2024, May 6). Copenhagen. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen#Environmental_planning

About Post Author

Aliyah Knetsch

Aliyah is a fourth year BSc Psychology student at the University of Waterloo, and she is a Research Assistant with EnvironFocus.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *