Newcastle has been crowned the UK’s most sustainable city, beating off competition from the likes of Brighton, Bristol and London. The annual survey undertaken by Forum for the Future named Newcastle at the top of its Sustainable Cities Index for a second year running, widening the gap with its peers.
The city has led the way in preparing for the rollout of electric vehicles with aspirations to become the UK’s ‘electric car capital’. The city’s willingness to embrace green technology has seen it rapidly become a vibrant clean-tech market, benefitting from the emerging green economy.
The rest of the cities that make up the top five all scored similar points, with their respective strengths and weaknesses lying in different areas. Leicester came out on top in terms of the environment but fell behind on quality of life.
Brighton has embraced future-proofing and has a high quality of life but also has a high environmental impact. Bristol was deemed the best city in terms of quality of life but is falling behind on environmental performance and future-proofing.
London scores best on its future-proofing, with strong plans to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, and the greatest number of business start-ups per person.
Overall, the report identifies that Britain’s largest 20 cities are undisputedly becoming more sustainable. Since the report’s inception in 2007, the cities performances have improved on 11 of the 13 indicators tracked. However, the gap between those at the top of the table and those at the bottom is widening. This can be illustrated by Glasgow being placed a lowly 19th, despite the city openly expressing its desire to be European Green Capital.
The increased threat of climate change, ageing populations, water shortages, energy blackouts and other key challenges pose serious problems for Britain’s cities. In a time of austerity it is essential that cities invest sensibly in long-term success but not at the expense of the surrounding environment.
Newcastle might be showing the rest of the UK how to develop a sustainable city, but even it has a long way to go to match the best European cities such as Copenhagen or Stockholm.
The full results are listed below: