Singapore is Asia’s greenest city, according to a new study.
According to the Asian Green City Index – conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by multinational corporation Siemens — Singapore bests 21 other metropolises, thanks to its “ambitious environmental targets” and “efficient approach” to achieving them.
The cities were rated on the basis of eight categories:
- energy and carbon emissions
- land use and buildings
- air quality
- environmental governance
- Well above average: Singapore
- Above average: Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, Yokohama
- Average: Bangkok, Beijing, Delhi, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan
- Below average: Bengaluru, Hanoi, Kolkata, Manila, Mumbai
- Well below average: Karachi
- energy and carbon emissions: Tokyo
- land use and buildings: Hong Kong
- transport: Osaka
- waste: Singapore
- water: Singapore, Tokyo, Yokohama
- sanitation: (none)
- air quality: (none)
- environmental governance: (none)
An interesting correlation emerged from the data, according to the authors: higher income does not necessarily mean higher resource consumption. In fact, it increases substantially up to an annual gross domestic product of about $20,300 USD per capita — but then drops beyond that.
The reason: in prosperous Asian cities, environmental awareness is greater and infrastructures are more efficient, according to the study’s authors. In other words, wealthy Asian cities tend to become more sustainable beyond that $20,000 limit.
More data points from the study:
- A majority of the Asian cities have already introduced comprehensive environmental guidelines.
- Average annual CO2 emissions per capita are 4.6 tons in the Asian cities. European cities average 5.2 tons.
- On average, the selected 22 Asian cities produce an average of 827 lbs. of waste per capita and year, less than in Latin America (1,025 lbs.) and Europe (1,127 lbs.).
- The biggest challenges for Asia’s cities: air pollution (levels are relatively high) and renewable energy (just 11 percent of the total mix; Latin America manages 64 percent).
- More than 40 percent of Asia’s population lives in cities.
- By 2025, more than Asian 200 cities are expected to have populations of more than one million. Currently there are 90. In Europe, there are 25.
Siemens’ interest in commissioning the study, of course, is because all this population growth requires infrastructure investment — and that’s what the company does best. Power grid, water, transportation and buildings systems will be necessary just to handle existing population, much less predicted growth — and Siemens hopes to be a player when cities look for partners to help them grow sustainably and manageably.
For now, the surveys continue to be a fascinating look at the world. Last year, Siemens named Curitiba, Brazil the greenest city in Latin America (.pdf); in 2009, Copenhagen was named the greenest in Europe (.pdf).