It is easy to think that a green city can only be a pipe dream. This is not true as there are cities in the world that have led when it comes to the environment. Success in greening a city can sometimes be a mixed blessing as more and more people then want to live there which then makes it difficult to keep up the momentum.
I have just returned from seeing Frieburg in the Black Forest in Germany. It claims to be the greenest city in Germany if not in Europe. It’s a city of over 200000 people who have supported the move to green policies from well before most people had even heard of climate change. Some of the things they have done:
- 70% of the population travel locally by walking, cycling or public transport.
- Built up a thriving renewable energy business including, solar panels and wind farms
- The ecologically oriented new district Vauban is a model project. The whole quarter´s construction method follows the main idea of saving energy and space.
- City centre developed for pedestrians not cars.
- Green party got 25% vote and voted in a green mayor.
- Insisted on high energy efficiency in new buildings.
- 62% of waste is recycled.
Looking at Frieburg shows what can be done if the whole community gets behind an idea. It has become a place that now attracts both people and industry because it is both go ahead and attractive to live.
Can Birmingham do the same?