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Iceland’s Reykjavik Tops Index for Green City Getaways

Edinburgh ranked the greenest city in Britain, and Washington D.C., and Los Angeles came tops in the United States.

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FILE - A view across Reykjavík in Iceland from Öskjuhlíd Hill.
FILE - A view across Reykjavík in Iceland from Öskjuhlíd Hill. VOA

Iceland’s small, snowy capital, Reykjavik, has been crowned the greenest
city for travelers, with the most green space per head of 50 cities surveyed, a travel agency said Tuesday.

Auckland in New Zealand came in second, followed by the Slovakian capital Bratislava and Sweden’s Gothenburg, with Sydney in Australia taking fifth place in the Green Cities Index published by TravelBird, a Dutch online holiday provider.

“Many popular city destinations around the world have made significant strides towards both preserving and manufacturing green spaces,” Fiona Vanderbroeck, chief traveler officer at TravelBird, said in a statement. “We aim to inspire travelers to see city trips differently — inviting them to connect with nature whilst also enjoying the vibrancy, culture and liveliness they look for in a city.”

The United Nations estimates that by 2050 more than two-thirds of the world will live in urban areas and has called for a radical rethink of urban planning.
Green spaces cool down cities, encourage physical activity and can provide stress relief, increase social interaction and improve mental well-being, the World Health Organization says.

Google Maps view for Reykjavik, Iceland
Google Maps view for Reykjavik, Iceland. VOA

The index analyzed mapping data from 50 popular city break destinations, evaluating the types and number of green spaces such as parks, golf courses, meadows, vineyards and farms. It found that coastal Reykjavik, home to about 120,000 people, has 410 square meters (4,413 square feet) of
greenery per inhabitant, boosted by its large national parks.

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At the other end

Tokyo was the least green city, followed by Turkey’s Istanbul, Athens in Greece, Lyon in France and Chile’s Santiago, all with less than 8 square meters of greenery per resident.

Edinburgh ranked the greenest city in Britain, and Washington D.C., and Los Angeles came tops in the United States.

Cities are taking steps to improve their green credentials — banning diesel vehicles, using zero-emission buses and setting tougher air pollution limits — to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  VOA

Next Story

Mourners Gather in Iceland to Commemorate the Loss of the Glacier Okjokull

Iceland glacier commemorated with plaque

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Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier. Pixabay

Mourners will gather in Iceland on Sunday to commemorate the loss of the glacier Okjokull, which was officially declared dead in 2014 at the age of 700. The glacier was officially declared dead when it was no longer thick enough to move. What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano, the BBC reported.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson and former Irish President Mary Robinson will all take part in a commemoration ceremony later in the day. After opening remarks by Jakobsdottir at the ceremony, mourners will walk up the volcano northeast of the capital Reykjavik to lay a plaque which carries a letter to the future.

“Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier,” it reads. “In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. “Only you know if we did it.”

The dedication, written by Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, ends with the date of the ceremony and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air globally – 415 parts per million (ppm). “This is a big symbolic moment,” Magnason told the BBC on Saturday.

“Climate change doesn’t have a beginning or end and I think the philosophy behind this plaque is to place this warning sign to remind ourselves that historical events are happening, and we should not normalise them. We should put our feet down and say, okay, this is gone, this is significant.”

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Irish President Mary Robinson will all take part in a commemoration ceremony later in the day. Pixabay

Oddur Sigurdsson, the glaciologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office who pronounced Okjokull’s death in 2014, has been taking photographs of the country’s glaciers for the past 50 years, and noticed in 2003 that snow was melting before it could accumulate on Okjokull. Glaciers have great cultural significance in Iceland and beyond.

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Snaefellsjokull, a glacier-capped volcano in the west of the country, is where characters in Jules Verne’s science fiction novel “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” found a passage to the core of the planet. That glacier is now also receding. (IANS)