On 15 December, 2011, the European Commission officially hand over the “European Green Capital” title from Hamburg, Germany to Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, further promoting sustainable transport initiatives throughout Europe. During the Ceremony EU Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik passes the “Green Book” from Michael Sachs of Hamburg, to Javier Maroto Aranzabal.
This exciting event marks the third year of the European Green Capital initiative, which recognises the important position local authorities play in improving the environment. With four out of five people living in urban areas throughout Europe today, promoting and showcasing best practice in cities is an excellent way to exchange ideas, strike up “friendly competition” and provide inspiration for green growth.
Beginning in 2010, Stockholm, Sweden, became the first European Green Capital with its high standards of sustainable transport and ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reduction. The city has seen a 75% increase in cycling over the past ten years and a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels. Its fleet of renewably-fuelled trains and inter-city buses, along with the “Clean Vehicles in Stockholm” initiative – where one in three cars sold in the city are clean – makes such goals possible. Further, through development of a “Professional Study Tour” programme in 2010, Stockholm has shown leadership in exchanging ideas and inspiration for sustainable urban growth.