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Five of Europe’s Newest Eco-friendly Initiatives

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ROME, ITALY—In today’s age of Greta Thunberg and the rise of climate change activists, it’s not only political leaders who are being forced to ask the difficult questions surrounding environmental values. It’s all of us. With tourism being one of the significant causes of carbon emissions, responsible tourism is really coming to the fore. Holidaymakers and city-breakers are looking for destinations that offer something of a green conscience. With that in mind, here are five of the latest eco-friendly initiatives happening in Europe.

Rome’s Plastic for Tickets

The local government of Rome has long advocated various environmental schemes, as we saw in 2008 with their greenbelt policy. This protected much of the city’s parkland, including the 3,296 hectares of Appia Antica Park. In fact, Rome is almost 40 percent parkland now (one of the highest levels in Europe), which is complemented by a network of eco-corridors connecting the city to these agro-parkland areas.

The Plastic for Tickets scheme was initiated in July 2019. It works by encouraging both residents and tourists to recycle plastic bottles at certain metro stations, with every bottle being worth the equivalent of a €0.05 metro voucher. With a standard ticket costing €1.50, a person would need to recycle 30 bottles in exchange for an entirely free journey. So far, the scheme is said to be a success, and it will continue to be rolled out to other metro stations over the coming year.

Paris’ Turn Paris Green

The “Turn Paris Green” plan is to turn 100 hectares of buildings “green” by 2020, including one-third for urban agriculture. Coined back in 2016, originally 33 Parisian organisations pledged to work with Paris city council on the project, committing to planting shrubs, vines, and vegetation on roofs and walls all over the city. Since then more partners have come on board, and it’s estimated that there is now around 500,00kg of new vegetation.

In addition to this well-established scheme, Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo has also announced plans to build urban forests around the capital. This is to provide more green space for residents and tourists to enjoy, while they are traversing the city’s landmarks on foot.

Copenhagen’s Building-Integrated Agriculture

With a goal to become carbon-neutral by 2025, Copenhagen is already taking great steps towards being an entirely environmentally-friendly city. The Danish capital has a vast network—more than 250 miles—of bike lanes, making it one of the world’s most practical cities for cycling.

Another concern in Copenhagen has been how to tackle the ongoing problem of emissions caused by agriculture, with one suggestion being the introduction of vertical farms. A local start-up company came up with the idea to build a farm on the roof of a Copenhagen shopping center. This will use the waste energy from the industry below to help grow vegetation which will then be sold in local supermarkets, and to local hotels and restaurants.

With more such projects in Copenhagen’s prospective future, tourists will soon be able to dine on sustainable foods in what has long been considered a food capital of Europe.

Lisbon’s Water Waste Recycling

Named 2020’s European Green Capital, Lisbon boasts a number of innovative environmental schemes. These include urban agriculture planning, optimised cycling and public transport facilities, the addition of more than 500 electric vehicle charging points, and an increase and protection of parks and green corridors.

The Lisbon municipal government have set a target to substantially reduce and reuse waste water, and have a number of projects in order to achieve this. These include the “Parque das Nações” project in which underground irrigation water is replaced by recycled, treated water and the waste-water reuse network which will see recycled water used for street-cleaning. Discover more about Lisbon’s waste water policies.

Stockholm’s Renewable Energy

In 2012 Stockholm Municipality declared that they would run the city using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. But three years later, in 2015, the goalpost was brought forward by an ambitious 10 years. Several schemes have been put in place to achieve this, possibly the most challenging of which being the doubling of public transport. 

In order to reach the target, all vehicles using fossil fuels will no longer be permitted in Stockholm. All residents, visitors, and tourists will have to use buses, subways/trains, bikes, or simply walk. Public transport in Stockholm already runs on renewable fuels or electricity, and there is also already a comprehensive bike rental program in place; City Bikes. 

Cities across Europe are implementing environmental schemes at a rapid pace, with pressure felt all over the globe regarding creating a more sustainable world. The European Union has set significant targets in emission reduction for its members, and we are therefore likely to see even more initiatives popping up all the time. If you are one seeking a European break to an environmentally responsible city, consider visiting one of the above capitals to find out how their strategies are unfolding. 

The article was written by Jim Whittle, founder of Rome Vacation Tips, one of the first independent travel advice websites about Rome and C-Rome art tours.

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