California A Global Leader On Climate Change

White House Agenda Not Slowing Action In Golden State

The environmental ministers of Canada and Mexico went to San Francisco last month to sign a global pact — drafted largely by California — to lower planet-warming greenhouse pollution. Gov. Jerry Brown flies to China next month to meet with climate leaders there on a campaign to curb global warming. And a battery of state lawyers is preparing to battle any attempt by Washington to weaken California’s automobile pollution emission standards.

As President Trump moves to reverse the Obama administration’s policies on climate change, California is emerging as the nation’s de facto negotiator with the world on the environment. The state is pushing back on everything from White House efforts to roll back pollution rules on tailpipes and smokestacks, to plans to withdraw or weaken the United States’ commitments under the Paris climate change accord.

climate change policy

In the process, California is not only fighting to protect its legacy of sweeping environmental protection, but also holding itself out as a model to other states — and to nations — on how to fight climate change.

“I want to do everything we can to keep America on track, keep the world on track, and lead in all the ways California has,” said Mr. Brown, who has embraced this fight as he enters what is likely to be the final stretch of a 40-year career in California government. “We’re looking to do everything we can to advance our program, regardless of whatever happens in Washington.”

Since the election, California has stood as the leading edge of the Democratic resistance to the Trump administration, on a range of issues including immigration and health care. Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton here by nearly four million votes. Every statewide elected official is a Democrat, and the party controls both houses of the Legislature by a two-thirds margin. Soon after Mr. Trump was elected, Democratic legislative leaders hired Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general, to represent California in legal fights with the administration.

But of all the battles it is waging with Washington, none have the global implications of the one over climate change.

climate change and extreme weather

The aggressive posture on the environment has set the stage for a confrontation between the Trump administration and the largest state in the nation. California has 39 million people, making it more populous than Canada and many other countries. And with an annual economic output of $2.4 trillion, the state is an economic powerhouse and has the sixth-largest economy in the world.

California’s efforts cross party lines. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who served as governor from 2003 to 2011, and led the state in developing the most aggressive pollution-control programs in the nation, has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s biggest Republican critics.

Mr. Trump and his advisers appear ready for the fight.

Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency chief, whom Mr. Trump has charged with rolling back Obama-era environmental policies, speaks often of his belief in the importance of federalism and states’ rights, describing Mr. Trump’s proposals as a way to lift the oppressive yoke of federal regulations and return authority to the states. But of Mr. Brown’s push to expand California’s environmental policies to the country and the world, Mr. Pruitt said, “That’s not federalism — that’s a political agenda hiding behind federalism.”

“Is it federalism to impose your policy on other states?” Mr. Pruitt asked in a recent interview in his office. “It seems to me that Mr. Brown is being the aggressor here,” he said. “But we expect the law will show this.”

In one of his earliest strikes, Mr. Trump signed an executive order in March aimed at dismantling the Clean Power Plan, President Barack Obama’s signature climate policy change. Much of the plan, which Mr. Trump denounced as a “job killer,” was drawn from environmental policies pioneered in California.

Jerry Brown California water conservation

Mr. Brown has long been an environmental advocate, including when he first served as governor in the 1970s. He has made this a central focus as he enters his final 18 months in office. In an interview, he said the president’s action was “a colossal mistake and defies science.”

“Erasing climate change may take place in Donald Trump’s mind, but nowhere else,” Mr. Brown said.

The leadership role being embraced by California goes to the heart of what has long been a central part of this state’s identity. For more than three decades, California has been at the vanguard of environmental policy, passing ambitious, first-in-the-nation legislation on pollution control and conservation that have often served as models for national and even international environmental law.

Read The Full Story at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/us/california-engages-world-and-fights-washington-on-climate-change.html?emc=edit_ta_20170523&nl=top-stories&nlid=59791470&ref=cta&_r=0

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

Frankfurt A Model For Sustainability

Most Cities Failing On Sustainability

Cities around the world are failing to meet the needs of their people, according to the inaugural Sustainable Cities Index. However, on a broad scale that measures people, planet and profit, Frankfurt is the world’s most sustainable city. London is the runner up.

The research was conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. It examines 50 cities from 31 countries ranking them across a range of indicators to estimate the sustainability of each city. The cities included in the study were selected to provide a sampling of the planet’s greenest cities.

sustainable Frankfurt green city

The 2015 report finds that no utopian city exists, with city leaders having to manage a complex balancing act between the three pillars of sustainability (people, planet and profit). The overall Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index ranks the cities as follows:

  1. Frankfurt
  2. London
  3. Copenhagen
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Rotterdam
  6. Berlin
  7. Seoul
  8. Hong Kong
  9. Madrid
  10. Singapore
  11. Sydney
  12. Toronto
  13. Brussels
  14. Manchester
  15. Boston
  16. Paris
  17. Melbourne
  18. Birmingham
  19. Chicago
  20. New York
  21. Houston
  22. Philadelphia
  23. Tokyo
  24. Rome
  25. Washington
  26. Kuala Lumpur
  27. San Francisco
  28. Los Angeles
  29. Dallas
  30. Santiago
  31. Sao Paulo
  32. Mexico City
  33. Dubai
  34. Abu Dhabi
  35. Shanghai
  36. Istanbul
  37. Johannesburg
  38. Buenos Aires
  39. Beijing
  40. Rio de Janeiro
  41. Doha
  42. Moscow
  43. Jeddah
  44. Riyadh
  45. Jakarta
  46. Manila
  47. Mumbai
  48. Wuhan
  49. New Delhi
  50. Nairobi

The index takes into account 20 different indicators ranging from green space to income inequality to ease of doing business.

sustainable Amsterdam

Although mature cities achieve the best balance, they cannot rely on historic investment. In a rapidly urbanizing world, the way in which cities are planned, built, operated and redefined has a huge social, environmental and economic impact.

Arcadis defines a sustainable city as one that works well for their citizens in the present without causing problems for themselves and the rest of the world in the future.

Roughly half of Frankfurt’s surface area is green, according to the city’s environment department, which notes that 52 percent of the city area has been set aside for recreation and to offset climate change. It consists of parks, woodland, farmland, orchard meadows, grassland, allotments and hobby gardens, cemeteries, roadside grass verges and bodies of water.

Frankfurt also is a founding member of the Climate Alliance of European Cities, pledging to continuously reduce its carbon emissions by 10 percent every five years, resulting in a 50 percent cut by 2030.

Across the world, cities are performing better for being sustainable for Profit and Planet purposes than they are for People factors. Many of the world’s economic powerhouses are becoming less affordable for their citizens, with the cost of property in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong penalizing their rankings. There is also a tradeoff globally between strong education and poor work-life balance, particularly demonstrated in Hong Kong.

“City leaders need to find ways to balance the demands of generating strong financial returns, being an attractive place for people to live and work, while limiting their damage to the environment. To truly understand how sustainable a city is, we must understand how it ranks in People, Planet and Profit. Only then can city leaders act to assess their priorities, and the pathway to urban sustainability – for the good of all,” said John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis, which produced the new urban index.

For more information about the Sustainable Cities Index, visit http://www.sustainablecitiesindex.com/

Living Near Trees Is Good For Your Health

Neighborhood Green Space Good For Mental, Physical Health

Studies have shown that natural environments can enhance health. But how much could a tree in the street or a nearby neighborhood park improve our health? Several scientists examined this issue by studying the relationship between health and neighborhood green space. They compared the impacts of trees along streets vs. tree canopy in parks and private residences.

urban trees and public health
Trees make people in urban environments feel, healthier, wealthier and younger.

It is a known fact that urban trees improve air quality, reduce cooling and heating energy use, and make urban environments aesthetically more preferable. Importantly, several studies have shown that exposure to green spaces can be psychologically and physiologically restorative by promoting mental health, reducing non-accidental mortality, reducing physician assessed-morbidity, reducing income-related health inequality’s effect on morbidity, reducing blood pressure and stress levels, reducing sedentary leisure time, as well as promoting physical activity. In addition, green space may enhance psychological and cardio-vascular benefits of physical activity, as compared with other settings.

Moreover, experimental research has demonstrated that interacting with natural environments can have beneficial effects – after brief exposures – on memory and attention for healthy individuals and for patient populations. In addition, having access to views of natural settings (from a home or a hospital bed, for example) have been found to reduce crime and aggression and improve recovery from surgery.

Although many studies have shown that natural environments enhance health or encourage healthy behaviors, to our knowledge, fewer studies have quantified the relationship between individual trees and health. In addition, studies have not separately estimated the treed area beside the streets and other urban green spaces and related those variables to individuals’ health in various domains, including cardio-metabolic conditions, mental disorders and general health perception. Knowing the kind of green space that may be associated with health benefits would be critical when deciding the type of green space that should be incorporated into built environments to improve health.

urban forests and public health

The typical method for quantifying exposure to green space for individuals in large population studies is to use the percentage of area covered in green space in an individual’s neighborhood. The size of the areas and the accuracy (and also definition) of green space quantification vary across different studies. For example, used data containing >10 m2 accuracy for green space and geographical units of 4 km2 on average in their study, Richardson et al. (2013) used >200 m2accuracy for green space and geographical units that averaged 5 km2, and used the presence of public “natural” spaces in areas within a 5 km radius from schools to quantify exposure to nature for school-aged children.

In this study, we were interested in examining green space with lower granularity (i.e., higher geographical resolution) and quantifying associations that are specific to exposure to trees, as opposed to exposures to any green space, such as grass or shrubbery. Here, our definition of green space consisted of tree canopy only and not of urban grass or bushes (or other “natural” settings). This choice is based on the assumption that trees are the most consistent green components in an area and potentially the most important component for having beneficial effects.

We also used a much higher geographical resolution for the following reasons. First, we wanted to distinguish between trees along the roads and streets versus those in domestic gardens and parks, and other open areas. To do so, we used individual tree data from the ‘Street Tree General Data’ and tree-canopy polygon data from the ‘Forest and Land Cover’ dataset to construct our green space variables. Both datasets came from the city of Toronto. Second, to ensure that the tree variables were less confounded by health insurance policies as well as demographic parameters (age, sex, education, and income), we used a single urban population (Toronto) in Canada, a country with a universal publicly funded healthcare system that, compared with the United States, guarantees access to health-care services independent of income and/or employment status.

These health-care equalities facilitate the interpretation of the relationships between individual urban trees and health in this urban population. Although financial barriers may not impede access to health care services in Canada, differential use of physician services with respect to socio-economic status persist; Canadians with lower incomes and fewer years of schooling visit specialists at a lower rate than those with moderate or high incomes and higher levels of education despite the existence of universal health care. In particular, we examined the relationship between tree canopy density beside the streets and in other areas such as parks and domestic gardens with an individual’s health.

The health variables evaluated include:

  • Overall health perception;
  • Presence of cardio-metabolic conditions such as hypertension, high blood glucose, obesity (both overweight and obese), high cholesterol, myocardiac infarction, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes; and
  • Mental health problems including major depression, anxiety, and addiction. Subjective self-rated health perception was chosen as one of the health outcomes because self-perception of health has been found to be related to morbidity and mortality rates and is a strong predictor of health status and outcomes in both clinical and community settings.

Furthermore, on the tree variable side, we distinguished tree canopy of trees beside the street from those planted in other areas, such as parks and private backyards. A distinction of these different sources of tree canopy may be helpful for urban planning policies. We hypothesized that street trees could have stronger beneficial associations with individual’s health because they may be more accessible to all residents in a given neighborhood as residents are likely exposed to street trees in their daily activities and through views from their windows.

Our results suggest that people who live in areas that have more (and/or larger) trees on the streets report better health perception. this increase in health perception is equivalent to the effect of a $10,200 increase in annual household income. This same increase in health perception is also, on average, equivalent to being 7 years younger.

Results suggest that people who live in areas that have more (and/or larger) trees on the streets report significantly fewer cardio-metabolic conditions. Results suggest that people who live in areas that have more (and/or larger) trees on the streets report significantly fewer cardio-metabolic conditions. This decrease in cardio-metabolic conditions is also, on average, equivalent to being 1.4 years younger.

The second important finding is that the health associations with tree density were not found (in a statistically reliable manner) for tree density in areas other than beside the streets and along local roads. It seems that trees that affect people most generally are those that they may have the most contact (visual or presence) with, which we are hypothesizing to be those planted along the streets. Another possible explanation could be that trees on the street may be more important to reductions in air pollution generated by traffic through dry deposition.

This does not indicate, however, that parks are not beneficial. This study only shows that planting trees along the roads may be more beneficial than planting trees in parks and private residences at least for these health measures.

Read The Full Report About Greening Our Cities: http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150709/srep11610/full/srep11610.html

Technical Solutions Not A Silver Bullet In Battle Against Climate Change

Economic Incentives Must Change On Many Levels

By Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Dealing with climate change and its risks will require not only technical responses like drought-resilient crops and higher sea walls but also reshaping economic and political incentives that are driving global warming, scientists said on Wednesday.

“The biggest risk of all that we face is that we’re addressing the wrong problem,” University of Oslo sociologist Karen O’Brien told a week-long conference of climate researchers in Paris.

Using more renewable energy and setting up crop insurance schemes and early warning systems is important, she said. But climate change “is more than a technical challenge.” Finding genuine solutions will have to involve “looking at who has power and how that might need to change,” she said.

sustainable cities
Climate change solutions will require a different set of incentives for government, industry and consumers. Will it take crises of epic proportions to force changes?

The rush to secure oil drilling rights in the Arctic, for instance, is painted by some analysts as the potential start of a new Cold War, as countries compete to gain access to some of the planet’s last untapped oil deposits in pursuit of profit and energy security, she said. But it is happening despite science that shows a third of the world’s already discovered oil reserves – as well as half of gas reserves and 80 percent of coal reserves – must stay in the ground to avoid runaway climate change that could see food supplies collapse, O’Brien and other experts said.

Climate risks will not be tackled effectively unless such contradictions are dealt with, O’Brien said. One way to achieve that could be through people stepping up to try and change the way governments and institutions behave.

“Small changes can make big differences, and individuals, especially when working together, can generate big social change,” she said.

Bending political and economic power to solve climate problems will be difficult, but “we are transforming either way,” O’Brien said, as a world four degrees Celsius warmer – the current trajectory for 2100 – would reshape life on Earth.

trees a climate change solution

Adapting to some of the accompanying problems, including a rise in deaths from extreme heat in South Asia, would be largely impossible, she said.

Some of the biggest opportunities to put the world on a different pathway may lie in fast-growing cities, said Shobhakar Dhakal of the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

Already more than 70 percent of global emissions caused by energy use come from cities, according to scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. By 2050, urban areas will have 2.6 billion more people, most of them in Asia and Africa, Dhakal said.

green infrastructure
Sustainable cities are resilient cities.

If rapidly urbanizing areas can build homes close to jobs and services, while making walking and public transport good options, climate-changing emissions could be reduced dramatically, he said.

“Our ability to make deep cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions depends to a large extent on what kinds of cities and towns we build,” Dhakal said.

Real progress on climate change and reducing vulnerability to its impacts will also require efforts to coordinate a huge range of activities, including social policy, urban planning, insurance, weather monitoring and deploying the right technologies, said Nobuo Minura, president of Japan’s Ibaraki University.

Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre warned that “we as humanity are now in a position to disrupt the stability of the entire world by driving climate change.

Many economic and government systems have been designed around a high-emission way of doing things, he said. Now, “we need a new relationship between people and the planet.”

Greener City News via http://www.trust.org/item/20150708160447-iq2yo/

 

Climate Fund Moving At Glacial Speed

Focus On Sustainability, Clean Energy

The Green Climate Fund is finally getting some legs. The big question now is what direction it will pursue. Local ownership, sustainability and a firm commitment to clean energy are a few of the apparent priorities.

“The GCF board is aiming to have at least a few projects in the pipeline in time for COP21 [the high-level climate change summit in Paris in December] – to show the world that the fund is open for business and that developed countries are putting their money where their mouths are,” Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth told IPS. “Of course, this will be more credible once substantially more of the money pledged to the GCF is legally committed.

Green Climate Fund projects
Can the Green Climate Fund move fast enough to make a difference?

“It is essential that those first GCF projects set the appropriate precedent for future-financed activities. The GCF must showcase the best of what it has to offer,” she added. “This means directly addressing the adaptation and mitigation needs of the vulnerable through environmentally-sound initiatives that promote human rights and benefit local economies, rather than Wall Street-type transactions that may theoretically have trickle-down benefit for the poor.”

The Fund is the United Nations’ premier mechanism for funding climate change-related mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. At the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, donors agreed to mobilize 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, in an undefined mix of public and private funding, to help developing countries. The GCF is to be a cornerstone of this mobilization, using the money to fund an even split between mitigation and adaptation projects.

Actual funding has trickled in slowly. But delivery of a pledge by the government of Japan late last month for $1.5 billion carried the Fund over the required 50 percent threshold to begin allocating resources for projects and programs in developing countries.

The Fund aims to finalize its first set of projects for approval by the GCF Board at its 11th meeting in November.

It has also identified strategic priority areas and global investment opportunities that are not adequately supported by existing climate finance mechanisms, and can be used to maximize the GCF’s impact, especially investments in efficient and resilient cities, land‐use management and resilience of small islands.

“Projects must be genuinely country-driven, which means not only government-driven but also driven by communities, civil society and local private sector. And, of course, there must be no trace of support for dirty energy,” Orenstein said.

Green Climate Fund

To date, 33 governments, including eight developing countries, have pledged close to 10.2 billion dollars equivalent, with 21 of them signing a part or all of their contribution agreement. But how to maintain and accelerate that funding in the long term remains to be seen.

In a new analysis, the World Resources Institute (WRI) notes that more than five years after Copenhagen, the sources, instruments, and channels that should count toward the 100-billion-a-year goal remain ambiguous.

It suggests four possible scenarios: developed country climate finance only; developed country finance plus leveraged private sector investment; developed country finance, multilateral development bank (MDB) climate finance (weighted by developed countries’ capital share) and the combined leveraged private sector investment; and all the first three sources, plus climate-related official development assistance (ODA) as compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In terms of which is most likely to be adopted, as governments negotiate a comprehensive new climate change agreement for the post-2020 period, Michael Westphal, a senior associate on WRI’s Sustainable Finance team, told IPS that parties have not agreed yet on even what finance sources should count.

“Our scenario analysis is focused on assessing how likely is it that each scenario could reach 100 billion dollars, given different assumptions of growth and leverage,” he explained.

“One of the main conclusions, not surprisingly, is that the more sources that are included, the more realistic is it for the 100 billion dollars to be reached – i.e., it would require lower growth rates and assumptions about how much private finance is leveraged per public dollar.”

Supplemental funding could flow from new and innovative sources, such as the redirection of fossil fuel subsidies, carbon market revenues, financial transaction taxes, export credits, and debt relief, the analysis says.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that pre-tax fossil fuel subsidies for OECD countries – long derided as irrational and destructive by environmental groups and many economists – amounted to 13.3 billion dollars in 2012.

Budgetary support and tax expenditures to fossil fuels totalled 76.4 billion dollars in 2011 for the OECD’s 34 member countries.

“On fossil fuel subsidies, the G20 has agreed to phase them out over the medium term, so we think it is likely to have progress on this front over the next five years,” Westphal told IPS.

“The IMF has written extensively about the costs of fossil fuel subsidies, so the issue is now a front burner issue for multilateral finance institutions.  As for ETS [emission trading system], governments would have to agree to divert some of the revenues from the allowances into their budgets for international climate finance.”

But even should the funding goal be reached, observers will be watching closely to see where the money goes.

Karen Orenstein has compared the push by some governments and financial institutions for “less dirty” fossil fuels to fight climate change to a doctor telling his cancer-ridden patient that “it’s fine to smoke, as long as the cigarettes are filtered.”

She notes that the list of activities that can currently be counted under the Common Principles (approved by multilateral development banks and the International Development Finance Club in March) as climate mitigation finance includes “energy-efficiency improvement in existing thermal power plants” and “thermal power plant retrofit to fuel switch from a more GHG-intensive fuel to a different, less GHG-intensive fuel type.”

“In the broad spectrum of fossil fuels, there is always going to be a project or fuel type that is relatively more or less dirty than another,” Orenstein says. “Allowing so-called climate financing for projects that are slightly less dirty than a hypothetical alternative is a sure way to game the system.”

She’s also guarding against the funding of false solutions like so-called “climate smart” agriculture, biofuels, waste incineration, nuclear energy and big dams – many of which are included in the Common Principles.

Climate Change News via http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/climate-fund-rolls-out-amid-hopes-it-stays-green/

Chicago Hosting Conference For Greener Airports

Sustainability Initiatives Transforming Air Transportation

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), in partnership with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), is pleased to announce its 8th Annual Airports Going Green Conference to be held October 26-28, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza River North in downtown Chicago.

sustainable airport strategy

The Airports Going Green Conference is the largest aviation sustainability forum, bringing together sustainability leaders, experts, and innovators from around the world.  More than 400 attendees from 11 different countries participated in last year’s Conference.  There were 30-plus airports represented, including small, medium, and large hub airports.

Airports Going Green creates an atmosphere that advances federal, regional, and educational partnerships. The Conference provides an opportunity to share best practices and lessons learned across the aviation industry with stakeholders in the U.S. and around the world including airports, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airlines, concessions and tenants, consultants, construction managers, governmental agencies, and others.

The 2014 Conference featured more than 20 sessions, 70 speakers, 40 sponsors, 20 exhibitors, and 10 local businesses. Highlights included a “Sustainable Fabrics Fashion Show” featuring recycled airline seat fabric, the industry’s first and only “zero waste” conference, more than $38,000 donated to the Airports Going Green Sustainability Education Fund, a sustainable foods happy hour, the Airports Going Green Awards, and an electric vehicle test drive on future O’Hare Runway 10R-28L.

The CDA is also pleased to announce that United Airlines has agreed to be the Presenting Sponsor of the Conference. United is a longstanding sponsor and supporter of the Conference. Last year, United donated airline seat fabric used by the Fashion Studies Department at Columbia College Chicago to create fashion designs for the 2014 “Sustainable Fabrics Fashion Show.” United staff also participated on a panel describing their weather resiliency planning and future aviation sustainability considerations.

United Airlines’ Eco-Skies program affirms its commitment to operating sustainability. As a founding member of the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI), United is continually working to support aviation biofuels and to improve aircraft fuel efficiency. For its efforts in this area, the airline received the World Bio Markets Award for Excellence in Advanced Biofuels on March 2, 2015.  It was also awarded the Global Business Travel Association Foundation’s Sustainability Outstanding Achievement Award in 2014; was named Air Transport World magazine’s Eco-Aviation Airline of the Year Gold Winner in 2013; and was awarded an Airports Going Green Award in 2011.

Visit www.airportsgoinggreen.org for more information.

The Most Eco-Friendly Cities In The World

Earth Day Every Day In Sustainable Cities

Innovations in technology and environmental friendliness are not mutually exclusive — in fact, the smarter a city is, the more eco-friendly it can (and should) be. Since we’re always talking about the most well-connected smart cities, here is a list of cities that are doing great things for the planet, too.

sustainable cities leaders

These aren’t in any particular order, as they make various rankings every year on different lists by many organizations. There are some usual suspects, but hopefully, some cities that surprise you as well.

All 10 cities are notable for their recycling and composting programs, bike friendliness, sustainable construction, clean-tech advancements, and energy conservation.

Oslo, Norway

Several Scandinavian cities consistently rank as the greenest in the world, and one of them is Oslo, the most populous city in Norway. For many years, sustainable environmental practices have been part of this city’s plan. The government has a committee focused specifically on strategies for sustainable development, and aggressively protects wild, natural areas from development, which reduces its carbon footprint.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is one of the cleanest cities in the world and has a lot of environmental planning initiatives. The city has a goal to be free of fossil fuels by 2050. According to research from HouseTrip, 93% of residents walk, bike, or take public transportation to work.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, with a great infrastructure built for bike routes. Amsterdam is also one of the cities that conserves the most water, according to HouseTrip research. The city also has an array of eco-friendly hotels. In 2014, Cisco signed an agreement with Amsterdam to make it a green and hyper-connected place, the “Internet of Everything” city and one of Cisco’s showcase metropolises.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is known as one of the greenest cities in North America, and is definitely the most eco-friendly in Canada. The government enacted a Greenest City 2020 Action Plan several years ago, and though many people drive, it has plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 33% by 2020, and is a world leader in its use of hydropower.

Curitiba, Brazil

On the South American Siemens Index of green cities, this is the only South American city that ranks above average in eco-friendly rankings. Curitiba has long had a rapid-transit bus system and great recycling program, and plans to build a better bus system and more bike routes. Compared to other cities in the region, it’s faring pretty well for its carbon footprint.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, Africa’s second largest city, is making some great progress environmentally. About five years ago, the country built its first wind farm, and has a goal of generating 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. It’s also very bike-friendly and has a lot of environmental initiatives in the communities.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen consistently ranks as Europe’s greenest city, with most residents living near and using public transportation, and half of them riding a bicycle for their commutes. Though it’s large in size, this makes the city’s carbon footprint relatively small. Citizens also compost and recycle, and work hard to conserve energy. Copenhagen has a plan to be carbon neutral by 2025.

San Francisco, California

Of course, San Francisco is one of the greenest cities in North America, with a 77% recycling rate and wide city regulations on recycling and composting. The city is extremely bike-friendly and is constantly ranked as one of the best cities for organic, sustainable food. The Bay Area is also the headquarters of many environmental and cleantech startups, an area of technology which is growing rapidly.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis has been on several green city lists throughout the past few years. The city has a program called Minnesota GreenStep Cities, which enacts sustainable practices and programs across the state. And with 92 miles of on-street bikeways and 85 miles of off-street paths, good air quality, and a nice park system, Minneapolis is both clean and eco-friendly and becoming more known for its energy conservation every year.

Freiburg, Germany

The city of Freiburg, Germany, which is on the edge of Black Forest close to Switzerland and France, has been on lists for green cities since 2008. Germany is a world leader in renewable energy, especially solar. Freiburg takes great measures to reduce energy consumption, particularly with residential homes. Apparently, home builders plan to use almost no energy and less than 40 gallons of oil to heat homes.

Sustainable City News via http://www.techrepublic.com/article/green-tech-the-most-eco-friendly-cities-in-the-world/

Arab Future Cities Summit Next Month

Smart Solutions For Sustainable Cities

The Middle East’s premier smart cities event will take place April 13 and 14, 2015 at the Ritz-Carlton in Doha, Qatar. In its 4th year running, the event will attract over 300 senior level executives to discuss progress, efficient management of resources, future developments and ways of making future cities more efficient and resilient in the Middle East.

green cities Qatar
Qatar is making sustainability a priority. It’s a leader in the region and the world.

The Middle East is at the forefront of developing Smart City Solutions to meet the rising demand for energy and resources from a large and growing urban population. The region’s transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy is further fueling the concept of smart cities.

Smart Cities enhance quality of life through integration of ICT within the infrastructure framework. Upon successful implementation, smart cities will not only boost commercial and capital investments but will be the best approach for reducing the tremendous strain on the present day infrastructure.

The Arab Future Cities Summit 2015 will showcase city development best practice strategies through presentations from some of the world’s leading experts and the innovative solutions that will integrate citizens, systems and services. There will be opportunities for networking along with knowledge sharing on the various sustainable technologies promoting smart city developments.

Connecting government authorities, developers, urban planners, investors, academics, and cutting-edge technologists, this event focuses on sustainable city development across the Middle East region and is a must-attend for key stakeholders committed to developing smarter cities.

Sustainable City News via http://www.arabfuturecities.com/

Jordan’s Mosques Go Solar

All 6,000 Mosques In Jordan Will Run On Solar Energy

As global oil prices continue to drastically fluctuate up and down over the years, the Kingdom of Jordan has announced that all of their mosques will soon run on solar energy, in an attempt to save money and promote sustainable development.

Jordan mosque solar power

Jordan is a country almost devoid of natural resources – most of the land is completely barren. The Jordanian economy is beset by insufficient supplies of water, oil and other resources, and to make things even worse, they import 96 percent of the energy they use.

Ahmad Abu Saa, of the Renewable Energy Department at the ministry stated “that photovoltaic solar systems for power generation will be installed at the Kingdom’s mosques under a project to be implemented in the course of this year.” The project will start by covering 120 mosques and tenders will be soon floated to install such systems at other mosques across the country, he added. It may not seem like much, but mosques actually use a lot of energy.

“Mosques use large amounts of electricity and the project will help to significantly reduce their electricity bills as around 300 days in the year are sunny,” Abu Saa noted. The funding is a pioneering move in the Middle East, and will hopefully pave the way for other countries. “Based on the funds that we secure, we will go ahead with the project. The more finance we get the faster the project will be implemented. Some of the mosques will get such systems this year,” he said.

Jordan seems to take a leading spot in the Middle East in terms of sustainable development. Resources have set a target to obtain 10 percent of energy from renewable resources by 2020. As of November 2014 Jordan had 10MW of installed capacity from renewable energy, and had over 15 renewable energy power plants in progress to be completed by the end of 2015, raising the installed capacity to 500MW, representing 14 percent

of the overall installed capacity.

Sustainable City News via http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/renewable-energy-ecology/jordan-mosque-solar-energy-18022015/

Cities With The Worst Air Pollution

Air Pollution In New Delhi Worse Than Beijing

Air quality in most cities that monitor their air pollution levels exceed what the World Health Organization deems as safe.

Delhi has the highest level of the airborne particulate matter, PM2.5 considered most harmful to health, with 153 micrograms. Not far behind is another Indian city, Patna with 149 micrograms. These figures are six times what the WHO considers a “safe” limit — which is 25 micrograms.

air pollution worst cities
Air pollution could choke expanding economies in Asia.

Half of the top 20 cities in the world with the highest levels of PM2.5 were in India, according to the air pollution data released by the WHO, which included 1,600 cities. Other cities with high levels were located in Pakistan and Bangladesh. PM2.5 refers to the diameter measured in microns of particulates such as ammonia, carbon, nitrates and sulfate — which are small enough to pass into the bloodstream and cause diseases, including emphysema and cancer.

The WHO data echoes an earlier study this year which found that air pollution in New Delhi is now worse than Beijing. Delhi has been described as having weak enforcement of pollution controls by India’s Center for Science and Environment, a public interest group.

air pollution in India's cities
No Chinese cities ranked in the top 20 most polluted cities, despite thick, gray smog filling its cities.

No Chinese cities ranked in the top 20 most polluted cities, despite thick, gray smog filling its cities and millions of residents commuting behind surgical masks. Beijing reported 56 micrograms of PM2.5. This year, Chinese leaders have declared “war on pollution.”

“Originally designed as compact entities to reduce the length of travel … (Indian cities) are becoming victims of killer pollution, congestion and a crippling car-dependent infrastructure,” according to the group.

Air pollution has spread by increasing reliance on fossil fuels, coal-fired power plants, cars and the use of biomass for cooking and heating.

Cities with the lowest level of pollution were located in Canada, the United States, Finland, Iceland and Sweden.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/08/world/asia/india-pollution-who/