EU cities top global index

27th February 2015

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Susan Smitherman

European cities occupy seven of the top 10 places in a new index of the world's most sustainable cities. Frankfurt leads the way followed by London and Copenhagen.

The Arcadis sustainable cities index ranked 50 major urban areas on measures of “people”, “planet” and “profit”. The planet category assessed factors such as share of energy from renewables, recycling rates, greenhouse-gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, quality of drinking water, and air pollution. The people category looked at issues such as quality of life. Profit, meanwhile, focused on the business environment and economic performance. Although Frankfurt took first place in both the planet and profit categories, London came 12th in the planet rankings.

Whereas the German city scored highly for reducing its CO2 emissions per capita by 15% since 1990, while increasing its economic power by 50% and office space by 80%, London suffered because of its declining air quality and high levels of consumption. Berlin came second in the planet category, with Birmingham 10th and Manchester 14th.

No North American city makes it into the planet top 10, with Toronto ranking the highest overall in 12th. Generally, the US cities fare worse on the planet metric than on the others, found Arcadis, a design and consulting business. It cites Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles as examples of poorly performing US cities, mainly because they are energy-hungry and have a low proportion of renewable energy. Every North American city in the index sits in the bottom half of the rankings on carbon emissions, said Arcadis.

Elsewhere, Chinese cities, particularly Wuhan, are penalised due to the presence of large, polluting manufacturing industries. São Paulo, meanwhile, scores badly for greenhouse-gas emissions, ahead only of Nairobi and Manila.


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