Head to Nantes – European Green Capital 2013

By Kate | Travel
Posted Jan 6, 2013

In 2004, Time Magazine named Nantes ‘the most liveable city in Europe’ and for 2013 Nantes will hold the title of European Green Capital. Situated on the Loire River, close to the Atlantic coast, Nantes is a green wonder of western France. It is France’s sixth largest city, and has a metropolitan area comprising some 600,000 inhabitants.

The European Green Capital designation began in 2010 with the city of Stockholm, Sweden and has since been awarded to Hamburg, Germany (2011), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2012), and now Nantes, France. Copenhagen, Denmark is set to receive the designation in 2014. The European Green Capital award is an initiative of the European Commission. The rationale being that 80% of European citizens live in cities and because cities are a significant source of environmental harms, cities are an excellent place to focus greening efforts.

What is so special about Nantes? Its residents are taking the threat of climate change to heart and have decided to take some serious action.

1) This metropolitan area of 600,000 people has adopted a climate action plan that aims to reduce carbon emissions 30% below 1990 levels (the reference year set by the Kyoto Protocol) by 2030.

2) Nantes is also a leader in global climate conversations. The city spearheads a worldwide coalition of cities participating in UN climate negotiations and co-chairs with Copenhagen a working group of European cities working to address climate change. They are also going to be the host of 8 upcoming environmentally themed meetings, including EcoCity 2013 in September and an international meeting on wetlands in October.

3) They are heavily investing in their public transit systems. In fact, 95% of homes are within 300 meters of a transit stop (that’s about 400 steps, according to Google). That means 95% of the city’s households can use public transportation to get around if they so choose. How? In recent years, Nantes has reintroduced streetcars and light rail in the area, created a dedicated busway, and has developed a bikesharing system. All of these improvements have helped Nantes achieve per capita CO2 emissions of only 4.66 tonnes! (To put this into context, per capita CO2 emissions in the U.S. are 17.3 tonnes.)

If that wasn’t enough; Nantes has initiated three projects to further enhance and focus on sustainability.

1) Île de Nantes – This project will revitalize a large “brownfield” area of industrial development into an “eco district” that will contain a large park, housing, public transit stops, and walkable mixed-use neighborhoods.

2) Ma Ville Demain 2030 (My City of Tomorrow 2030) – This project strives for civic engagement to determine Nantes residents’ long-range vision for the region, and sustainability has become an important part of that vision.

3) Estuaire – This project will place pieces of public art along the river in order to draw interest and attention to the area’s estuary and its many environmental benefits, the hope being that increased knowledge will increase residents’ pride in and desire to protect the estuary.

Nantes offers a full range of accommodation, including a large number of eco-certified rooms. To book a hotel or bed and breakfast room in Nantes, see further information at www.nantes-tourisme.fr

Read more via: greenismything.com


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