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Ciutat de les arts i les ciències de València
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These are the greenest cities in Europe in 2022

Five cities are competing for two prestigious EU green cities awards

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Given the hellish heatwaves that have boiled much of Europe over the past few weeks, being green and good for the planet feels more urgent than ever. And crucial to that are the actions of our governments and cities, who have the power to make a serious dent in the climate crisis. 

Now, there are plenty of cities that are still failing to effectively take action in the climate emergency. but others are storming ahead – like, for instance, the finalists for two of the European Union’s most prestigious green cities awards: European Green Capital and European Green Leaf.

Both of the awards recognise not just the green stuff cities have already achieved, but also what they’ve got planned for the future. There’s only one European Green Capital winner per year, while the annual European Green Leaf recognises the environmental achievements of two smaller EU cities (specifically those that are between 20,000 and 99,000 inhabitants in size).

So who’s up for these awards? Well, the two cities vying for Green Capital are Valencia in southern Spain and the Sardinian city of Cagliari.

Valencia boasts Turia park – the largest urban park in Europe – and has apparently stepped up its green infrastructure polices in recent years. Cagliari, meanwhile, is focusing its campaign on the city’s vast green spaces and ‘urban green’ philosophy.

The winner will be crowned Green Capital 2024 and win €350,000 (£300,000, $360,000) to put towards green policies. (2023’s winner is Tallinn, Estonia.)

The Green Leaf award, meanwhile, is being contested by the Romanian city of Bistrița, the Danish city of Elsinore, and Velenje, the fifth-largest city in Slovenia. The two winners of the Green Leaf will get €75,000 (£64,000, $77,000) to fund local green efforts.

For the respective awards, each city has to present their ideas to a judging panel. The winners will then be announced at a ceremony in Grenoble (this year’s European Green Capital) in October.

So even if you don’t care about EU gongs, it’s very much worth checking out all the cities in the running to find out all the cool stuff they’re doing to save the world, bit by bit.

Did you see that Norway is creating ten (yes, ten) new national parks?

Plus: the new rules to know before visiting Europe’s beaches this summer.

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