Newcastle-upon-Tyne has been named the greenest city in the U.K. in a sustainability audit conducted by Forum for the Future. Photo by Draco2008 via Flickr.com.
Shrouded in smoke and the center of ship building, Newcastle-upon-Tyne was once a major industrial center. But the city has been transformed into the greenest city in Britain in recent years, according to a sustainability audit, The Guardian reports. Newcastle was a bit of a surprise, surpassing cities that typically come to mind when Britons think "green city," such as Bristol and Brighton & Hove, which ranked second and third, respectively.
But perhaps Brits shouldn't have been quite so surprised. Newcastle has rapidly moved up in the rankings in the past few years: The city, located in northern England about half-way between Leeds and Edinburgh, ranked eighth in 2007, and last year they moved up to fourth before leaping up to the top spot for 2009.
Newcastle sets an admirable example for other cities, says Peter Madden of Forum for the Future, which produces the annual ranking:
Anywhere with an industrial heritage faces genuine challenges, but Newcastle's success shows how it is possible to overcome the legacy of the past. In all our categories -- environment, quality of life and future-proofing, the city scores really well.
More specifically, the jump in rank can be attributed to the city's improved "air quality, biodiversity in public parks and open spaces and the best salmon run on a English river," Guardian reporter Martin Wainwright writes. And if that weren't enough, Newcastle also got high marks for waste collection, expansion of green space, life expectancy and good strategies for tackling the pink elephant in the room: climate change.
The city reduced carbon emissions by limiting car use and reducing emissions in the public transportation system, says John Shipley, leader of Newcastle City Council:
We reckon to be leading the way in transport which reduces CO2 emissions and helps to prepare us for a low carbon economy. Economic growth must not be achieved at the expense of the environment. Sustainability is at the heart of our vision for a socially just future. The city has also become the electric car capital in a government-backed experiment, which will see 1,000 charging points installed in Newcastle and Gateshead over the next two years.
How Do Other U.K. Cities Stack Up?
Leicester ranked fourth, mostly based on its work to mitigate climate change, while the capital, London came in at fifth. Leeds jumped seven spots in the past year, to come in at sixth.
So who finished last? For the second year in a row, Hull gets the dubious distinction.