Top Five Eco-Friendly Cities in the World

a picture of Denmark
Posted by: Dana Colson Category: Climate Change, Environment

Top Five Eco-Friendly Cities in the World

If you’re planning a trip, why not visit some of the most eco-friendly cities in the world. Here’s a list of the top five eco-friendly destinations from around the world and some information about what each city is doing so well.

Number 1: Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen was awarded the European Green Capital Award in 2014 and should be completely carbon-neutral by 2025. With a commitment to sustainability, clean energy, and healthy living, Copenhagen sets the example for eco-friendly cities. 

Here’s what they are doing so well:

  • 55 percent of residents and 36 percent of commuters ride bicycles year-round. The city has 546 kilometres of bike trails. 
  • 96 percent of residents live within a 15 minute walk to a green space.
  • Copenhagen residents recycle 90 percent of building waste.
  • Copenhagen plans to be net zero by 2050. Solar and wind energy will power 50 percent of Denmark’s energy. 
  • The Royal Danish Playhouse uses water from the harbor and thermo-active structures to heat and cool the building. 
  • According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, three of four Danish residents buy organic food weekly.

Number 2: Zurich, Switzerland

The city of Zurich posted an environmental strategy and a goal of being completely climate neutral by 2040. How do they plan to achieve this?

  • Switzerland imports 52 percent of its food. Zurich’s dedicated Food Strategy ensures food available in the city is “healthy, safe, accessible to all, produced in an ethically responsible manner and cultivated in an environmentally friendly way.”
  • Zurich committed to a goal of using no more than 2000 watts of energy consumption per resident by 2050 while replacing energy with 100 percent renewable energy sources. 
  • The KVA waste-to-energy plant converts 100,000 tons of waste into energy yearly, which powers 150 communities.
  • If a flat roof in Zurich does not function as a roof terrace, it must be be roof vegetation. These roofs encourage biodiversity, assist with rainwater retention, provide temperature moderation and dampen sound while providing additional green spaces in the urban center. 

Number 3: Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland, already a leader in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, set an ambitious goal of being free of fossil fuels by 2050.

  • Geothermal power heats all buildings in the city, one advantage of being a volcanic island. Only 0.1% of electricity is created by fossil fuels, with the rest generated by hydroelectric dams. 
  • Nine of ten residents of Reykjavik live within a five-minute walk to a green space.
  • The city plans to be carbon neutral by 2040, and all vehicles will be powered by environmentally friendly sources by 2030.
  • With improved cycling and walking paths and design, the city wants 8 percent of all trips to be completed by bicycle by 2030 and 22 percent by walking, while reducing private car use from 75 percent to 58 percent in the same timeframe.

Number 4: Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm has had an environmental policy in place since 1976 and was named the first European Green Capital in 2010. The city also intends to be carbon-neutral by 2040.

  • Stockholm plans to be fossil fuel-free and carbon-neutral by 2040. They also plan to reduce carbon emissions to 1.5 tonnes of CO2e per resident. Greenhouse gas emissions per resident have already fallen 60 percent since 1990.
  • Hydropower, biomass, and other renewable resources produce 54 percent of Sweden’s energy.
  • Stockholm’s hotels carbon-label food choices in restaurants to help visitors reduce their carbon footprint through eco-friendly choices.
  • Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport earned an ISO 4001 certification and uses a “green approach” that allows planes to descend continuously to land without engine thrust, reducing fuel emissions. 
  • The Karma app allows consumers to purchase surplus food from restaurants, hotels and grocery stores at a reduced price to reduce food waste and food insecurity.

Number 5: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam has a reputation for having more bicycles than people, and the city provides shared bicycle hubs so you can borrow a bike to get you where you want to go. The shared electrical mopeds are used to get around quicker. What else does Amsterdam do to be sustainable?

  • The city is a Low Emission Zone, and diesel vehicles are prohibited.
  • Amsterdam plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030 and 95 percent by 2055. 
  • By 2030, solar and wind power will generate 80 percent of the energy requirements for the city.
  • By 2040, the city will not use any natural gas.
  • Amsterdam has more than 800 restaurants that offer meat-free options, making it a vegetarian and vegan-friendly tourist location.

All the cities on this list are committed to making sustainable changes and making it easy for the residents of the cities to make changes as well. When everyone does their part, great things can happen for the planet.

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