What Are The World’s Cleanest Cities?

In December 2015 China issued a “red alert” warning for their capital, Beijing Smog and air particle levels were ten times higher than the World Health Organization’s safety standards

The alert shut down schools and stopped construction, reflecting China’s ongoing issues with pollution At that same time, the rest of the world was meeting in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change convention, in an attempt to tackle growing environmental concerns So while Beijing is covered in smog, we want to know: what are the cleanest cities in the world? A 2012 Green City Index report by the Economist Intelligence Unit examined each major world region to determine which global factors contribute to cleanliness In Europe, many of the top spots were captured by Nordic countries, with Copenhagen in Denmark as the cleanest city overall Zurich, Switzerland also received high points for lowest CO2 emissions

Both countries have strict limits on high polluting vehicles, but there is also a societal push to use public transit, bicycling, and walking Even the 2009 Copenhagen Accord saw the world’s major economies come together for the first time to lower global emissions In Latin America, a clear and repeat winner for cleanest city has been Curitiba, [kureh-teebah] in Brazil The city was the first to introduce bus rapid transit in 1974, and has continued the trend of working with its citizens to provide environmental benefits A recycling program called, “Garbage? That’s not garbage!” has led to about ¾ of the city’s trash recycled by residents

Other programs, like one which trades bus tokens for recycling, shows how effective communal and government efforts can be Another top recycler, this time in Asia, is the city-state of Singapore On average, they generate less trash per person than the rest of the continent But they also keep the city clean through high density planning, and infrastructure investment Recycling and water treatment plants are state of the art, and designed around supplying the uniquely compact city

With so many people living so close together, it is very important to produce as little waste as possible Over in North America, it’s health conscious San Francisco that takes the lead According to the GCI, San Francisco recycles as much as 77% of their waste, which is more than any European city besides Leipzig, Germany Another reason is that SF requires that commercial building owners submit regular energy usage reports, leading to considerably lower usage This, coupled with a sharing economy, high quality public transit, and and marginal environmental tax benefits, makes makes SF incredibly clean

Lastly, and unfortunately, no cities score “well above average” in Africa The highest ranked, Accra in Ghana, is not necessarily the cleanest But they get major points for having a direct bureaucratic link with the national government concerning the environment This helps not only in monitoring, but also action, and is found lacking in most African cities profiled Overall, the most consistent aspect of environmental friendliness seemed to be based on society’s willingness to take part

Mass transit and recycling help bring down emissions, as does efficient city planning and government policy But it should come as no surprise that without the support of the people, there is little that can be done to save the earth While it is nice to live in a city with no pollution, much of the world does not have that luxury To find out what pollution actually does to your body, check out this video by DNews Thanks for watching Test Tube News! Please like and subscribe and we’ll keep making videos for you every day

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