Oslo third 'greenest' in Europe

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Norway’s capital ranks third on this year’s European Green City Index, which measures and rates the environmental performance of 30 major cities in 30 European countries. The Scandinavian capitals grabbed all three top spots.

Copenhagen grabbed the top spot, a timely distinction given its hosting of the current UN climate conference in the Danish capital. Stockholm ranked second in the overall ranking, with Oslo coming in third, Vienna fourth and Amsterdam fifth.

The study was conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit for industrial firm Siemens.The Green City Indexattempts to measure environmental sustainability of 30 major European cities, by evaluating them in eight categories.The categories include the cities’ levels of CO2 emissions, energy usage, buildings, transportation systems, water usage, air quality, waste and land use, and environmental governance.

Reinhold Achatz, head of corporate research and technologies for Siemens AG, said the cities can use the study to set priorities in “reducing their carbon footprint.”

The 30 cities studied are home to 75 million persons and emerged as “leaders in environmental performance,” said James Watson, managing editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit and editor of the study, which was released in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

All had lower per capita CO2 emissions than most EU countries have as a whole, and Oslo ranked best in this category. Oslo emits only 2.5 tons of CO2 per capita per year, Watson said, far less than the EU average of 8.5 tons.He said that most of the cities still have a ways to go in terms of developing more renewable sources of energy. Renewable energy currently accounts for only about 7 percent of the cities’ energy supplies, significantly less than the EU’s target of 20 percent by 2020.

The Scandinavian cities’ strong rankings in the study were said to reflect their ambitious climate targets and high levels of environmental awareness. Stian Berger Røsland of the Conservative Party, who heads Oslo’s city government, was pleased with the Green City Index results.

“We come out very well,” Røsland, who takes either the train or tram to work every day, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) . “At the same time, it’s interesting to see what we need to do to improve.”

Oslo’s high ranking was linked in part to its reliance on hydroelectric power and its investment in fjernvarme , tapping heat and hot water from the earth. Kiev scored lowest of the 30 cities, followed by Sofia and Bucharest, reflecting their ongoing reliance on coal as an energy source.