San Francisco, Vancouver + NYC Lead Green Cities Ranking
Yesterday, the results of a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Siemens was released that assesses and compares 27 major U.S. and Canadian cities on environmental performance and policies across nine categories – CO2 emissions, energy, land use, buildings, transport, water, waste, air quality and environmental governance.
In choosing the cities to include in the analysis, EIU was advised by a panel of global urban environmental sustainability experts. The 27 cities selected were chosen to represent a number of the most populous metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada. The list includes the top 20 U.S. combined statistical areas, and the top 5 Canadian census metropolitan areas. The cities of Miami and Phoenix were added due to population and growth rates; while Portland is not officially on the list but is highlighted in the report.
The report is packed with interesting facts on each of the cities, but a positive outcome was that 21 of the 27 cities in the index have already set their own carbon reduction targets. In fact, there isn’t a single U.S. city in the report that is ignoring issues of sustainability. Unlike four or five years ago, the conductors of the study found that every city had a sustainability officer to talk to.
Further, the cities that performed best in the rankings are the ones that have comprehensive sustainability plans that encompass every aspect of creating a greener future, including:
- land use
- energy use
- carbon dioxide emissions
When looking at how U.S. and Canadian cities did compared to their global neighbors, the study found that:
- While there is a correlation between wealth and environmental performance, it is weaker in the U.S. and Canada than in Europe and Asia.
- 90 percent of Americans commute by car, compared to 74 percent of Canadians and just 47 percent of Europeans.
- The average American is five times more likely to live in a city that recycles water than the average European.
- Americans are only half as likely to live in areas with strong clean air targets compared to the European counterparts.
- The average American living in the analyzed cities emits an average of 16 metric tons of carbon each year—compared to 8.1 metrics tons for each Canadian, 6.8 for each Asian, and 5.2 for each European.
One of the goals of the Green City Index is to identify best practices, advance good ideas and provide role models for others with their innovative policies. Below is a chart of how the analyzed cities compare to each other.
Sustainable Cities Collective