In the framework of our editorial mission Green Europe on the Ground , cafebabel.com is sending 40 young journalists, photographers, photojournalists or videomakers 'on the ground'. The aim is to uncover the most innovative initiatives defining a city in our 'green Europe'. We're all fighting climate change!
'Green Europe': Brussels, eco-friendly city like any other
Anything 'ecological' in Europe seems to have to pass through Brussels, in its role as 'capital' of the EU, such as hosting workshops on global eco-entrepreneurs. In any case the city is sensitive to 'green' issues such as recycling and car-sharing. Second issue of cafebabel.com's 2011 monthly citizen journalism series, 'Green Europe on the ground'
'Green Europe': Budapest's long green road
We all knew that Hungary was taking over the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2011, because we all heard about their dubious state plan for a media law. What we weren't too keyed up on as we launched our green resolutions for the new year was what they were planning to bring to the European ecology policy table. Green consumers and young Hungarian activists try to breath down public necks, as citizens such as urban cyclists and eco-designers show of their daily lives. This is not just a green country though, as it slowly recovers from its red toxic waste disaster in October 2010. cafebabel.com proudly presents the first edition in our 2011 monthly series, 'Green Europe on the ground'
Berlin, a dizzyingly green capital of Europe
Europe’s major female leader is a former environment minister herself. Has Angela Merkel learnt nothing? In 2011, Germany has regional elections in a mighty 7 of its 16 federal states. Showtime is on 27 March in Baden-Wurtemberg, where the German chancellor’s christian democrat party looks set to lose its 58-year rule. A green issue threatens those in power: nuclear-sceptic citizens are fighting the nuclear policy. The politicisation of citizens in Stuttgart reaches the capital, where Berliners vote in their first successful green referendum. The people’s green power is everywhere, from gastronomy and ‘city agriculture’ to nightlife and entertainment. cafebabel.com meets guerilla gardeners, vegans, green clubbers and a token expat Australian who has launched his own environmentally-friendly version of WikiLeaks. As Berlin keeps modernising and turning everything in its sights green - like the famous Berlinale film festival - Europe’s other capitals will have a hard time catching up. Third edition in a 2011 monthly series, ‘Green Europe on the ground’ (Image (cc) Neromonga/ Flickr)
Rome: far niente ecology
All roads do not necessarily lead to Rome when it comes to talking environment. The Italian capital might be the greenest in Europe after Oslo, but it ranks after Bombay as the city with the most amount of scooters in the world, which remains one of the most popular transport methods for Romans. Taking a bicycle out on those mean streets seems to stir up a bit of a kamikaze effect. But of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if you look, you will find. There is a supreme sophistication in the simplicity of organic Italian food. Theatres and design boutiques reveal an alternative green edge to Rome, whilst more evidence is found on the city’s periphery and the solar roofs of the Vatican, even if its ‘green pope’ sends out mixed WikiLeak messages. Fourth edition in a 2011 monthly series, ‘Green Europe on the ground’ (Image: (cc) Reza Vaziri/ Flickr)
Seville gets mean on green
At a time when unemployment is enemy number one across the country, April saw the launch of a new monument to Seville which cost a grand total of 123 million euros - 70% more expensive than first chalked. Things don't look good before local elections take place in Spain on 22 May. But there is some future somewhere, and the capital of Andalusia has some green goods despite its bad municipal management. Between solar energy successes, local organic producers and the increase in bicycle lanes in the city, there is definitely a case to be made for green economy in Seville. That doesn't mean it's the place for greenwashing though. Fifth edition in a 2011 monthly series, ‘Green Europe on the ground’ (Image: (cc) Franie Frou Frou/ Flickr)
Ljubljana gets the luscious green light
Glance at a night-time satellite image of Europe, and you might notice that the entire continent is illuminated except for Slovenia, where a unique light pollution law was introduced in 2007. When it comes to green, the country outshines its EU neighbours. Slovenia's first ever green party successfully included environmental growth policies into the fabric of the new state on 25 June 1991. The good care of the country’s dense wealth of nature taken during its former Yugoslav era also meant that when Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, 35% of its territory was declared under the Natura 2000 programme, conserving its biodiversity. Take a bicycle south of the city, and in twenty minutes you’re in peaceful bear territory. Though Slovenia doesn’t have the same environmental problems as other European countries, other green problems can be overlooked; a heavily vehicled valley city, the capital suffers mainly from air, water and waste issues. Its citizens are notoriously active, hiking after work, ‘slacklining’ in parks or spending weekends in the surrounding forests or at the coast. Yet over the twenty years that the country has existed, the presence of a green party dwindled and green activism is slow-burning amongst its 2 million citizens, even about the country’s sole nuclear plant. From the streets to the hills which squeeze Ljubljana like a corset and the forests which tie it up like a ribbon, read the eighth edition in a 2011 monthly series, ‘Green Europe on the ground’ (Image: © Lucille Caballero/ lucillecaballero.com/)
Marrying 'eco' with 'logical' in Strasbourg
300 hectares of green spaces, more than 500 kilometres of bike route and the nature park of Vosges just nearby. The Alsatian capital definitely classes as one of Europe's ecological paradises, and we even find citizens who plan their weddings with a green visor. We sent a budding Sherlock Holmes through the city to crack its eco-crimes, because after all, Strasbourg is most famous in the European eco-crime scene for the second seat of the European parliament which it hosts, compromising the city's eco-balance. Read the following edition in a ten-month 2011 monthly series, ‘Green Europe on the ground’ (Image: (cc) njaminjami/ Flickr)
Athens: Got 99 problems and environment is one...
The Greek capital has other problems to deal with than the environment. While the main Kifissos river has dried up due to poorly planned construction works, the Aegean sea is being swamped with illegally dumped waste. The battle of Keratea, a small village outside the capital, against an immense landfill site which has been in the pipelines for the last fifteen years, is just one more worry for the government. Athens’ expanding cycle lanes are to die for, especially on a Friday night – but otherwise the town is breathless because of pollution and the oppressive heat. Will the anger of citizens be enough to protect the marvels of Attica? (Image: © Benedicte Salzes/ benedictesalzes.com)
Paris: the green at the end of the tunnel
Paris is like a tunnel which threatens to devour everything, a pressure cooker ready to explode. The city has the densest population in Europe: 21,000 people per square kilometre. Worn out by an insatiable demand for accommodation, a jam-packed metro and trees wilting due to pollution, the Parisians are eager for change. Citizens have already rolled up their sleeves (literally!) and are creating new green spaces. With shared gardens, honey, biodiversity and public politics transforming the city, Paris aspires to transform velibs into autolibs, to develop new trains and to listen again and again to the lectures of the ecolo-geeks. Cafebabel.com shows you the green leaves peeking through the paving stones
Vienna’s green wavelengths
The Prater park, the Vienna woods and the Lobau: Vienna is green no matter which way you look. Fifty percent of the Austrian capital is made up of green spaces and in 2010 the city received the accolade of having the best quality of living worldwide from the international Mercer study. It isn’t just in internationally orientated events in the city centre like Danube Day that we see Vienna riding a green wave. Instead it is also clear in the town’s most hidden corners: some city-dwellers grow cannabis quite legally, others opt for a car-free life, and others still go back to nature and live in caravan communities. Five European reporters got to the bottom of Vienna’s green lifestyle as part of cafebabel.com’s monthly editorial project Green Europe on the Ground (Image: (cc) M'sieur Rico/ Flickr)