Cities are wonderful places to indulge our hedonistic desires on a mini break or for a longer stay. And according to C40, a network of more than 90 of the world’s greatest cities committed to addressing climate change, these beauties are trying harder and being more ambitious than most to drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change. Read why below, then in the name of sustainable travel vote with your feet and start planning your visit.
This historic and gorgeous capital is on a mission to restrict fuel-powered cars and move as many people as possible to electric cars, walking and cycling. Since the summer of 2017 visitors have been able to walk along the banks of the River Seine in a space that used to be a two lane motorway, and the city aims to remove all diesel cars by 2020 and to electrify all buses by 2025. It’s also doing lots of work around air quality to make it a better place for pedestrians and cyclists, including ‘greening’ the city with more roof gardens.
This vibrant port city has the most ambitious climate target of any world city. It aims to be carbon neutral by 2025, and is already over 80% there. Its inhabitants take more of their journeys by bike than any other city in the world, and own more bikes per person too. They’re also expert at preparing for the consequences of climate change, spending money to work out what happens if the sea rises to their most low lying coastal areas, and devising car parks and plazas that can safely flood should the worst happen.
Los Angeles, USA
Locals in this freedom-loving sprawl have historically always needed to get about by car, but over the last five years the city has invested a huge amount in improving public transport to change all that. You can now take a tram easily from the centre to local beaches, and local taxes have been increased to pay for more public transport for visitors and locals alike. City mayor Eric Garcetti has spoken out against Trump pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement, and is committed to meeting his city’s share of the agreement anyway as part of the "We Are Still In" campaign (others on board include Chicago, Washington DC, Portland and San Francisco).
Mexico City, Mexico
This huge cosmopolitan cultural hub had the worst air quality of anywhere in the world in the 1980s but has been cleaning up its act in all sorts of ways. Air quality is now hugely improved, and there are inventive procedures in place to make things even better. Every Sunday, for example, a number of streets across the city are now closed to vehicles so people can cycle them safely, and the city now has the largest bike hire scheme in Latin America. Pretty impressive for a city of over 50 million people.
This world class city has reduced emissions by 26% in less than a decade whilst also growing economically, an impressive feat helped vastly by its having the most sophisticated Cap and Trade system of any other city in the world. Lots of planting has also helped the city deal with its Urban Heat Island Effect, where it’s hotter in the centre of a city because of all the concrete absorbing the heat. Everywhere you look, you’ll see plants trailing down walls and roof gardens - a total of 5700 new or existing buildings have added 180 hectares of green roofs or walls since 2001.
For more information on these cities and others take a look at www.C40.org.