Globally, most cities are working on climate plans to become carbon neutral and create liveable and sustainable cities for their citizens. This top-down approach is a fact – but it is also interesting to see what citizens do themselves to create greener and more sustainable cities, the so-called bottom-up approach. We here at Green Bike tours find it very exciting to explore how cities approach the task with its citizens as each city is unique and so is it’s way to a greener city.
Cities are the big polluters
Around 70% of global CO2-emissions are from cities worldwide, so if we want to fight climate change we need to especially focus on the cities. And if we want to listen to researchers’ recommendations on how we avoid dire climate catastrophes in the future, then all cities as well as the entire world should be carbon neutral by the mid of the century.
The mission of Green Bike Tours
We know that all cities in the world need to become green and carbon neutral, but we don’t know how. Or do we? Green Bike Tours was founded in Copenhagen, a city which since 2009 has worked actively on its plan to become CO2-neutral by 2025 as the first capital in the world. This story is basically what our tour 1 is all about.
Along the way we realized that Copenhagen is not the only city on this quest, and also many cities choose a different path than Copenhagen, however with the same goal in mind. Every city has its own starting point and approach, because each city has a different mix of pros and cons in the context of becoming green. Who are we to tell that any of these approaches are better than others? Instead, the story we can tell is how each city tackle this quest, in order to inspire other cities to choose and mix tools from the different approaches, to find the perfect approach for their city!
More cities in our portfolio
As we said, Copenhagen is not the only city on this carbon-neutral quest, and this is why we want to be in as many cities as possible and tell that city’s unique story of how they are becoming green. This is why we in 2019 expanded our tours across the water to the Swedish neighbor city Malmö. And the same reason why we from this year go even further, all the way to the German capital, Berlin.
The good and the less-good
We have not been put here only to tell the success stories – we know that the grass is rarely greener on the other side. Instead we want to tell both the good and the bad – or, what we think of as the “less good”. Because the goal of becoming carbon neutral is truly different from anything else we have done with our cities, so the cities are on unknown territory.
We are not supported by any governments or municipalities – we tell the story as it is, because we believe that the only way we can actually fight climate change is by being totally straightforward about the immense challenges of becoming green, while also providing proofs that it is actually possible to overcome these.
The right approach
Then, what have we learned from our cities? Copenhagen is an amazing bicycle city with top-class bicycle infrastructure and more than 60% of the population using their bike as their preferred transportation option. However, Danes are also the people who produce most trash per citizen in the entire EU.
The city of Berlin on the other hand has been very slow in building bicycle infrastructure, and with some really terrible examples of bike lanes. However, they have a unique group of green entrepreneurs which for example has resulted in the amazing Euref campus, which has been CO2-neutral since 2014.
These examples represent the different approaches of the cities: Copenhagen has an effective top-down approach, whereas Berlin has been much more successful with a bottom-up approach. Again, who are we to tell if one of these two are better than the other? As long as both will reach the same target – become carbon neutral before mid of the century – then we are happy.
All cities will be green
We believe that each city’s green story is important to tell, and we are already excited by the thought of which city we will go to next! For example, Paris is building bicycle infrastructure faster than ever with a rise in bicycle use of 54% in only one year! Or take Vienna where more than half of the city is covered in green! And we know many other cities are making great efforts these days. Which city do you think should be our next?
Join our Tour 1 in either Copenhagen, Malmö or Berlin and see for yourself what we are talking about! We have people on study trips on tour with us but also “normal” tourists. We show you the sustainable city but we also give you small tips and ideas that you can bring with you home so to change your own behavior and lower your carbon footprint.
Visit us and book a spot on www.greenbiketours.org
Written by Green guide, Josefine Wuffeld and founder Helene Hjortlund