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According to the Siemens Clean Cities Index, a project carried out by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist magazine, the "greenest" cities are those that best manage carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, public transport, the disposal of waste and, in general, environmental issues.
The BBC spoke to residents of the greenest cities to find out how they live.
Vancouver, Canada Compared to other cities of its size analyzed in the aforementioned index, Vancouver, in Canada, performs well in terms of CO2 emissions and air quality, in part due to the city's efforts to promote green energy and the use of hydroelectric power.
Vancouver has pledged to cut its emissions 33% by 2020. This pledge comes as no surprise to Lorne Craig, who moved to the city in 1985 and blogs about environmental issues.
"Vancouver has had a green counterculture since the 1960s and is recognized around the world for being the birthplace of the Greenpeace organization," explains Craig. "The mountains preside over the city. They remind everyone that we are part of something bigger and more beautiful," he says.
While other cities continued to build roads and promote cars and urban sprawl, Vancouver stayed true to city life, as evidenced by the development of Granville Island, a pedestrian peninsula with markets and art studios. Curitiba, Brazil Of all the cities in the index for South America, only Curitiba is above average in environmental rankings.
After building one of the world's first urban bus systems in the 1960s and developing a pioneering recycling program in the 1980s, the city in southern Brazil continues to be at the forefront of green thinking. In fact, the great use of public transport makes Curitiba appear at the top of the index in terms of air quality. However, the city needs a little revitalization, according to Stephen Green, who moved to Curitiba 15 years ago from London and writes a lifestyle blog.
Although Curitiba plans to build a metro system and more than 300 additional kilometers of bike lanes, these projects are expensive and the city needs more funding to complete them, Green says. Still, compared to other cities in the region, "Curitiba is excellent," says Green. Copenhagen, Denmark Although other Scandinavian cities such as Oslo and Stockholm are close behind, Copenhagen remains, year after year, the greenest city in Europe. Almost all its inhabitants live within 250 meters of public transport and more than 50% use the bicycle for their daily trips. As a result, Copenhagen has very low CO2 emissions for a city of its size.
Although the whole city is good for bicycles, the districts of Nørrebro in the northwest and Frederiksberg in the west are especially committed to this mode of transport, explains Mia Kristine Jessen, originally from Copenhagen. "They have spent a lot of money to create the Green Route, a nine-kilometer walking and cycling lane," explains Jessen.
"The Green Route was made to help cyclists to move around the city quickly and easily and enjoying beautiful views," he adds. "But it's not just about one lane - it's full of green areas, playgrounds, benches, and different grounds, so the view changes with every turn," says Jessen.
The route ends in Valby, four kilometers from the center, in a neighborhood popular with families for its parks, schools and the safety of its streets. San Francisco, United States San Francisco is the greenest city in the United States according to the index. The city has a long history of environmental awareness, since the founding of the environmental group Sierra Club in the 19th century. San Francisco has a 77% recycling rate, one of the highest in the world. "We are surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and we have a history of liberalism and open-mindedness," says Donna Sky, who moved to the city from Costa Rica nine years ago and founded a local hummus production company.
Furthermore, many inhabitants worry about the food they buy and make an effort to have it produced in the vicinity. This is why many neighborhoods have their own local farmers markets, each with its own personality. Cape Town, South Africa South Africa's second largest city is making the greatest strides on the continent in this regard, in part because of its energy conservation policies and increased use of renewable energy sources. In 2008, Cape Town began using energy from its first wind farm and aims to obtain 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. These efforts are changing life in the city.
"They are creating new bike lanes, local farmers markets are very popular, and chefs value nearby ingredients," explains Sarah Khan, who moved to Cape Town from New York in 2013 and writes a blog about South Africa. . Still, Khan believes the city could do even more to improve public transportation and avoid the increasingly prevalent power shortage. The people of Cape Town make a lot of life in nature and are not afraid to get on a bicycle to get from one place to another.