Stockholm is not just the most populous, effervescent and lively Scandinavian city, it is also the most ecological! The European Commission so granted Stockholm the first title of ‘European Green Capital’ in 2010. Stockholm has long been finding solutions to the problems faced by all large, modern urban conglomerations, such as traffic and pollution. Its inhabitants enjoy what is arguably the best quality of life on the mainland. One just needs to observe Swedes skiing, ice-skating, bicycling or walking along motor-free lanes to understand why - any Swede will tell you that nothing’s worse than being house-bound!
And with its 24,000 islets and islands, Stockholm attracts brigs and three-masters from all over Scandinavia beginning in the month of May. 40 % of the city’s area is devoted to parks and gardens, including Ecopark, the first national city park which covers a total of 27 km2.
Having opted for a rather dissuasive parking toll (the congestion tax) for those who are tempted to drive into the city, the Swedish capital has also succeeded in convincing inhabitants to take public transportation, which is readily available and financially accessible. The excellent and clean underground is designed like an art gallery with permanent exhibitions. Even the buses and old streetcars (dating from the 1920s and 30s) which connect centre city to Djurgarden Island (and its famous Vasa maritime museum) make for a pleasant ride, ideal for sight-seeing. In addition, children are V.I.P.s in Stockholm and parents with prams ride all forms of public transportation free of charge (the same applies to all public establishments, in fact). With these methods, the city has reduced its CO2 level by 25% since 1990. Its goal is to completely forego fossil fuels by 2050. The buses run on biofuels provided by waste timber and other waste materials whose mass, currently estimated at 4,500 tons, should increase to 18,000 tons by 2012.
Stockholm also has 760 km of bicycle paths and is building two new green neighbourhoods in the style of Hammarby Sjöstad. Located opposite Södermalm Island, on the banks of the Hammarbyleden Canal, this model quarter has successfully married the convenience of living close to centre city and the pleasure of being in a natural environment. The architecture, infrastructures, water and waste management systems as well as the energy supply have all been studied and implemented with a view to sustainable development. The quarter should be completely developed by 2016.
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