Looking for travel inspiration for 2019? Here are some of the most eco-friendly cities in the world to visit this year.
If the start of a new year and the return to work has you daydreaming of your next break, the following destinations not only offer everything you might expect from an exciting global city – great food, sightseeing and nightlife – but they also boast some impressive sustainable credentials. With just 12 years left to limit climate change catastrophe, people and governments around the world are investing in ways to lower pollution levels, manage waste and encourage greener living, and the following cities are at the forefront of these sustainable innovations.
If you’re planning on a city break in 2019, consider visiting the following:
The European Comission has named Oslo as Europe’s Green Capital for 2019. Three years ago the city introduced a ‘Climate Budget’ that measures CO2 emissions in the same way as the financial budget, with the aim of cutting 50% of emissions by 2020 and being completely carbon neutral by 2050. Additionally, 30% of vehicles sold are electric and biogas is produced from biowaste and the city’s sewage. The local government has also closed down street parking and limited traffic to enable more room for bikes and greenery, in order to become a car-free city. Definitely one to watch and to visit this year!
The capital of Denmark consistently ranks as Europe’s greenest city and is aiming to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025. A magical place where bikes outnumber cars and you can swim in the harbour’s waters because it’s just that clean (that is if you don’t mind the cold of course), the city leads in sustainable design and infrastructure. It started integrating green roofing in 2010, and this year will be switching all buses to fully electric. Tap water undergoes daily strict quality controls to make it clean and there are also over 60 drinking fountains across the city so that you can refill on the go.
Stockholm was the first city to be awarded the European Green Capital Award in 2010 by the EU Comission and has announced it aims to go fossil fuel-free by 2040, even though it already makes use of very little compared to other cities. Hammarby Sjöstad is an urban construction project completed in 2017 that has been developed to support environmentally-friendly housing and a greener lifestyle for its residents (think solar panels, car sharing, composting, low noise pollution and more green spaces). The city’s airport is entirely carbon neutral with respects to its own operations and the people of Sweden are also leaders in recycling, vintage fashion and investing in green innovations – definitely one to visit and explore.
Vancouver already boasts one of the lowest carbon emissions of all North American cities and is continuing to pursue greener goals. The city has committed to getting 100% of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2050, and to become zero waste by 2040. Local food production is supported across the city through urban farming and by increasing the number of farmers’ markets.
Named ‘the Green Capital of Brazil’, Curitiba is a city of three million people and boasts 14 urban forests and 16 parks. The city did not have budget for a standard recycling plant, so it came up with an even better alternative – a currency that rewards people for separating their recycling and bringing it to facilities where it can be exchanged for food, bus tickets and school books. Needless to say, it has been a success.
San Francisco, USA
The Bay Area city was the first in the United States to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. San Francisco aims to become waste-free by 2020 and is already making huge progress on its target as it diverts 80% of all trash from landfills. It should also come as no surprise that there is a huge vegan scene amongst it’s finest restaurants. Plus, the vintage stores alone are worth the trip.
Although Asia has some of the highest pollution rates in the world, Singapore is a leading pioneer for sustainability within the continent. The city’s strength lies in incorporating nature into the architecture by building green roofs and ‘nature ways’ that stretch alongside roads and attract birdlife, while buildings are designed to save energy and water and are made with sustainable materials. Singapore is an incredibly modern city rich in biodiversity – one not to be missed when in Asia.
Cape Town, South Africa
The second largest city in South Africa, Cape Town, has made some exciting sustainable developments in recent years. With around 10% of its energy derived from renewable sources, the government has also set a goal for 10% of all households to use solar energy, which is significant as it is one of the cities most affected by blackouts.