Amsterdam as a city has always been green. As early as 1934, the municipal council felt that people should be able to live in a green environment, and why? "The Amsterdammer was entitled to it." Back then, people realised that going green was not only beautiful, but also healthy; it was a way to tackle smell, dust, dirt, noise and contribute to a more beautiful earth. Tens of thousands of elms were planted along the canals to purify the air. A walk around Amsterdam will reveal that there is no other city in the world with so many trees. A lot of people never really notice it until they pay close attention.
A quick search on the internet shows you that there are more bicycles than residents in Amsterdam. On a daily basis, Amsterdam’s population cycles a distance of two million kilometres combined. Approximately forty percent of all travelling in the city takes place by bicycle. Pretty cool, right?
But the question still remains: How green is Amsterdam?
Dutch people are actually more environmentally friendly than most people in other parts of the world. They have a habit of separating their wastes and making sure that they are well disposed. An Amsterdammer produces less household waste than say, a New Yorker per year.
Many hotels in Amsterdam are very active in achieving the best possible sustainable business operations. Amsterdam boasts of over fifty hotels with a Green Key certificate, especially among 4 and 5-Star hotels. These hotels comprise over half of all hotel beds in Amsterdam. Green Key is an international sustainability quality mark for businesses in the tourism and recreation industry.
Amsterdam is one of Europe's leading cities in the field of electric transportation. There are currently over two thousand public charging points for electric cars, boats and bicycles and more are added every week. One would be speaking the truth if one said that all of them use green electricity.
Both KLM and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport are working hard towards a policy that is as sustainable as possible. KLM-Air France has an active role in drawing up climate goals for the entire aviation sector and, it stands to reason, also applies this policy itself. For instance, their goal for 2020 is to reduce the CO2 emission for international flights by 20 per cent in relation to 2009. In addition, energy-efficiency will be improved in 2020 with 1.5 per cent annually.
The NS (Dutch Railway Corporation) is also part of the sustainability movement. Since 2010, Thalys high-speed train has been operational between Paris and Amsterdam. This has positively reduced the travelling time between both cities to 3.05 hours. The travel time between Brussels and Amsterdam has also been reduced to 1.45 hours. Furthermore, the Eurostar started services between London, Brussels and Paris in 1994. The NS's corporation with Thalys offers passengers the possibility of changing trains for the Thalys to Amsterdam in Brussels-South. The total travelling time between London and Amsterdam is now 4.45 hours. This is good news because an increasing amount of travellers use this possibility. In terms of CO2 emission, the high-speed train appears to be more sustainable than planes and is also a better option than cars.
The Public Health Monitor also reveals that the number of windmills in Amsterdam has remained the same for years, but the power generated is still three times more than that of solar energy. The CO2 emissions per inhabitant decreased by 100 kilos between 2016 and 2017. However, total CO2 emissions hardly decreased and in 2015 was still higher than in 2011. In 2016, 25 percent of the labeled houses had an energy label of B or better.
Another factor to consider is that the amount of vegetable gardeners and mini-fields in Amsterdam neighbourhoods keeps increasing each year. This is environmentally friendly and good for the earth. The number of electric cars also increased by 32 percent between 2016 and 2017. In 2016, there were almost 60,000 mopeds and scooters, four percent more than in 2015. Of these, 2000 are electric. The percentage of all road vehicles that drive electrically has increased from 0.6 percent to 1.7 percent between 2013 and 2016. There is also Car2Go. Car2Go has been a car sharing provider since 2008, active in various cities in Europe and North America. Around 150 electrically powered Smarts have been operating in Amsterdam since November 2011. The Smarts can be left free of charge at any regular parking space anywhere in the area where Car2go operates. Amsterdam is the first European city where Car2Go uses electric vehicles.
Developments For the Future
Surveys by the Public Health Monitor show that a number of positive developments are underway, but there is still a lot to be changed. The City of Amsterdam has made great efforts to promote greener means of transport, and fortunately, that has been quite successful. Reports show that the citizens now prefer bicycles over cars and this is partly because of how expensive it is to park in Amsterdam. Thanks to the Amsterdam City Council, parking i so expensive that residents and visitors resort to using bicycles to find their way around the city.
Making sure that Amsterdam stays green is not only the responsibility of the municipality or large transportation companies like Thalys, it is also the responsibility of all of us, the residents of Amsterdam.