10 of the greenest cities in the world

10 of the greenest cities in the world, as determined by the green city index, the European green city index and the sustainability cities index (yep, lots of different indexes). The cities are in no particular order, but there is at least one city from each 6 continents (obviously I can’t include Antartica as there are no cities there).

Vancouver, Canada 

The first of our 10 of the greenest cities in the world! Not only is it one of the greenest cities in North America. It is also one of the most cycle-able cities, with over 255km bike paths running all over the city. Many people opt for a cycle commute over a car commute, which greatly reduced the cities overall carbon footprint. Vancouver also has a very strict recycling policy. Garbage must be separated into recyclables, this includes organic waste. Recyclables are collected more often than general waste, which forces people to be more aware of their consumption and waste production. On top of this, households in Vancouver can be fined if caught not separating their garbage correctly. It may seem harsh – but, it works! Vancouverites also boost to have one of the lowest carbon emissions per capita in North America.

I can’t think of a better place to start our ‘green’ cycle adventure, then in Vancouver, the green capital of North America.
Sunset in Vancouver, while waiting for the fireworks to start
Sunset in Vancouver, while waiting for the fireworks to start

San Francisco, USA

According to the Green City Index, San Francisco is the greenest city in North America. This is thought to be due to the city’s innovative green initiatives and partnerships with companies in the private sector to promote more eco-friendly and sustainable practices, such as the promotion of environmentally friendly commuting and the energy awareness program. The city was also the first US key city to ban the use of plastic bag.

Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba is thought to be the greenest city in the whole of South America. The city has some innovative and well developed waste and clean air policies, which top largely accounts for the cities high ‘green’ ranking.

Cape Town, South Africa

I’m sure my friends in Johannesburg will not be happy about this choice, however Cape Town is thought to be the greenest city in Africa. However, with that being said, the city still has a long way to go before becoming truly sustainable. The biggest let down is the energy and CO2 emission, which is mostly resulting from a high electricity consumption. The city does have quite strict environmental policies and an abundance of green spaces, so I’m sure the city will become increasingly more sustainable and the overall carbon footprint will start to decrease.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen actually was ranked the highest in the European green city index, which was largely due to the government’s and the locals’ efforts to achieve and sustain a very clean and hygienic environment. It is also due to the very high standard of quality life, which is achieved in an efficient environmental means.

Denmark is definitely on our list of countries to cycle through, during our world cycle tour.

Singapore, Singapore

Singapore has been declared the greenest city in Asia, second to Tokyo in Japan. It also has one of the longest running, green campaigns in the world. The Clean and Green Singapore (CGS) campaign, which has been around for close to 20 years. The country is also very strict on water waste, and has embraced electric cars, over gas run cars. The city also has a large portion of ‘green’ space (public parks and gardens) throughout the city.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is a world leader in its support for green building, with an ambitious target of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2020, and becoming the world’s most sustainable cities. There is still has a way to go, but the targets and potential exists. Locals tend to have a ‘green’ attitude, and though their targets are ambitious, they aren’t impossible.

Reykjavik, Iceland

The city of Reykjavik runs completely on renewable energy. The city has learnt to effectively converts geothermal activity into renewable clean energy. It is estimated that by 2050, Reykjavik will be completely independent from using fossil fuels. This is something that every other city in the world is nowhere near achieving.

Bristol, England

Bristol is a city located in the South West of England (not to far from my parents hometown in Swindon). It will actually be the city we finish out world cycle tour in. Bristol was declared the greenest city in the United Kingdom in 2015. This city’s ‘green’ ranking will probably surprise a lot of people, as it did once have a reputation of being a run down, rural city, with a big drug problem and a large population of homelessness, but the city has undergone a lot of innovative development in recent years. Though like any city, there are still problems to be fixed, but overall this development is proof that any city is capable of becoming ‘green’.

Portland, USA

Portland is the last of our 10 of the greenest cities in the world. The city has had the reputation of being a green city for quite some time. The overall attitude of locals, is green, which obviously influences the overall ‘greenness’ of the city. Most local residents aim to only eat locally produced products, to carpool, to recycle and to make the buildings LEED-certified. Portland is a great example of a city where the people are the ultimate drive towards achieving environmental sustainability. The demand from the people forces businesses to follow green practices.

Portland, like Vancouver, is also a very cycle-able city. There are over 250km of cycle paths throughout the city. Definitely, my kind of city!

leaving vancouver
leaving vancouver on the bikes

So, that’s my list of 10 of the greenest cities in the world in 2015. If you enjoyed this article then you might also enjoy learning about our eco-discoveries, and reading our articles on Ecotourism in Jamaica and Discovering the Patagonia Store in Halifax.

Are there any other cities that you think should be on this list of 10 of the greenest cities in the world? If so, add your city and reason, below. 

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