The World’s Greenest, Most Livable Cities

Writing in this month's Reader's Digest, Matthew Kahn, an environmental economist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment, analyzed data from 141 nations and ranked the planet's greenest, most livable places.

While Northern European nations like Finland, Norway and Sweden fared well, the United States performed poorly in several categories, ranking #107 in Greenhouse gases, #106 in energy efficiency, #63 in air quality and #22 in water quality. No U.S. cities made it into the top ten greenest/most livable, but New York is getting close. Chinese cities are bottom of the barrel. 

Top Five
1. Stockholm
2. Oslo
3. Munich
4. Paris
5. Frankfurt

Bottom Five
68. Bangkok
69. Guangzhou
70. Mumbai
71. Shanghai
72. Beijing

U.S. Cities
15. New York
22. Washington, D.C.
23. Chicago
26. San Francisco
57. Los Angeles

The author, who also wrote Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment, identifies car ownership as a major problem. "If China's car-ownership rate matched that of the United States, one billion cars would be on China's roads. That would translate into total gas consumption of 520 billion gallons per year—nearly half the current world use." Even at the current rate in which people drive in in Beijing today "the level of one type of particularly harmful air pollution is more than four times the level in New York City." Thankfully, the world's newest subway line was just finished in Beijing.