Top green destinations

By Sergio González | 16:46

Wise exploitation of clean energy resources are turning Iceland into a power-house

There is no standard definition for the greenness of a city but to find out how they are performing, field experts try to define the impact caused to the environment, the carbon footprint, by measuring our behaviors and studying the resulting indexes.

How’s the quality of water and air in the city? How clean are the sources of energy and how efficient is its distribution and use? Are there any recycling policies and enough water treatment facilities?

Are there clean transportation systems available? How many trees are there per inhabitant? Can they easily access organic food?

These are examples of the kind of questions that must be answered to crown any city as green queen.

The challenge is quite herculean; ensure growth without compromising the city’s natural ecosystem is harder and more expensive than environmental irresponsibility but experts are heavily pointing out that it’s no longer an option but a vital need.

Every year, Yale University publishes the data and conclusion of Environmental Performance Index -EPI- which ranks countries performances and trends regarding their green policies -the laws themselves and their correct implementation- as well as environmental health.

The three best are Switzerland, Latvia and Norway -top ten list only includes a non-European country, Costa Rica; the worst ranked are Libya, Eirtrea and Tajikistan. But none of them are really making any change in the global arena; concerning environmental impact -both good and bad- size does matter.

San Marino is a lovely country fit within Italy whose 32,000 inhabitants endorse strong green laws protecting air, water and soil, not only at home but raising their voice for the Earth at international meetings. A true example for all of us; admirable, but a drop in the ocean.

Luxembourg is another interesting country. They also display bold eco-friendly policies that pay off. They’re ranked 4th at EPI and they perform outstandingly in most environmental and social indexes but surprisingly not in quality of life; three nearby nuclear power plants in Germany and France reduce it drastically. For a greener tomorrow, we all have to commit.

Sadly, we aren’t in that level of consciousness yet. Several international protocols try to bring worldwide governments around binding green agreements but local communities and NGOs are the ones calling the tune if we look at green endeavors and list of actions undertaken.

Nowadays, bike lanes can be found almost everywhere in San Francisco

The United States are known for its moderate eco-friendly performance, however, Pacific Coast states can be proud. Portland started a true green path early followed by San Francisco and Vancouver in Canada. Maybe President Obama’s annoucement of future high speed trains for America will turn thing around.

Miles of bike lanes and clean light-rails, pedestrian streets turning into whole walking areas and a strong reduction of greenhouse gases emission have turned these cities into the green beacons of America.

They even demolished a highway to build a park instead! Can’t think of any other place in the world that does such a thing? Well, we can be optimistic; the old Berlin airport, Tempelhof, became one of the largest city parks on Earth in 2010.

One of the major goals to achieve for green cities is a renewable energy supply; making it 100% clean is the top dream and, although it’s really hard, according to Reykjavik it’s not impossible. The capital of Iceland -considered by every eco-friendly list as the greenest city in the world- entirely runs on harmless geothermal and hydro-power resources.

Actually, the arctic state has set a plan to become completely fossil fuel independent by 2050. Geothermal power is so abundant and easily accessible in this volcanic island that they might soon become the power-house of Europe.

Photo Credit: vicmontol

Photo Credit: Tyler Howart

 

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