Blog | Western Union

8 Eco-Friendly Cities Making a Difference

With nearly 97% of climate experts agreeing that “climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” it’s no surprise that cities around the world are taking action with environmental regulations and initiatives to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Here are a few of the top eco-friendly cities and their commitments to going green.

 

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Home to more bikes than people, Amsterdam is known for having one of the most bicycle-friendly infrastructures in the world. For non-bikers, electric cars are a popular choice, and the city has over 300 charging stations.

In 2009, Amsterdam launched a special project called Amsterdam Smart City to encourage citizens to help save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emission. The majority of residents now produce their energy from solar panels and small-scale wind turbines with energy efficient systems to cut down usage of electrical energy.

 

2. Cape Town, South Africa

At the forefront of Africa’s green movement, Cape Town was the first city to use South Africa’s commercial wind farm. By 2020, the city aims to get 10% of its energy from renewable resources.

The government is focused on promoting a healthy, outdoor lifestyle to push for better energy conservation. The city has prioritized safe cycle routes and the My CiTi rapid bus service permits bikes on their buses, free of charge, to help make it easier to get around without a car.

 

3. Curitiba, Brazil

Curitaba is the only South American city to score above average in the green rankings of the South American Siemens Index. In the 60s, the city developed the world’s first rapid-transit bus system and by the 80s, the city had started a world-leading recycling program. With 70% of the city’s waste recycled, Curitiba continues to be eco-friendly and environmentally forward-thinking.

 

4. San Francisco, California

The first U.S. city to introduce the colored bins recycling system, San Francisco has one of the highest recycling rates in the world, at nearly 80 percent. To avoid fees, city mandates require the separation of recyclable and compostable materials from regular trash. San Francisco is also famous for their public transportation, which primarily features electrically-powered buses and trolley cars that receive power from overhead wires.

 

5. Reykjavik, Iceland

Home to 30 active volcanoes, Reykjavik has the world’s largest geothermal heating system.

Over 99% of the city’s electricity comes from hydro-geothermal energy sources and farmers in Reykjavik grow fruits and vegetables in greenhouses, which are geothermally heated and lit by hydro-electricity.

 

6. Singapore, Singapore

Asia’s greenest and most livable city, Singapore aims to have zero waste in landfills by the mid 21st century. Singapore issued a Green Plan in 1992 as an environmental blueprint towards sustainability. The plan tackles strategies for cleaner land, water, and air, and supplies every household with free recycling containers.

 

7. Stockholm, Sweden

With coordinated environmental plans dating back to the 70s, Stockholm is considered one of the cleanest cities in the world. In 2010, Stockholm became the first city to win the European Green Capital Award and has pledged to be fossil fuel-free by 2050.

 

8. Vancouver, Canada

The cleanest city in Canada and one of the cleanest in the world, Vancouver ranks in the top 10 for CO2 emissions and air quality. Recognized worldwide as the birthplace of Greenpeace, Vancouver is committed to reducing emissions 33% by 2020.

In addition to promoting hydropower and other green energy options, Vancouver offers pedestrian-friendly public spaces and a large network of bike routes.