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Cardiff named ‘third greenest city’ in the UK in major university study

08 Nov 2021 4 minute read
Castle Street in June 2021, Cardiff Picture: Alex Seabrook

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

Cardiff has been named the third greenest city in the United Kingdom in a recent university study.

The study looked at the 25 largest cities by population size, and analysed a range of environmental data.

Academics at the University of Southampton considered 17 criteria and ranked cities based on six categories: green space, energy use and production, motor vehicles, waste and recycling, commuter travel, and pollution.

Cardiff came behind Sheffield in the top spot and Edinburgh in second place, but ahead of Brighton in fourth place and Bristol in fifth. The Green Cities Report was commissioned by NatWest bank as part of a strategy to support consumers to track their carbon footprint.

Professor William Powrie from the University of Southampton, the lead expert behind NatWest’s Green Cities report, said: “Extreme weather events of the past year together with the focus on sustainability ahead of Cop26 have brought home the need for changes in the way we live if we are to mitigate the effects of the twin environmental catastrophes of climate change and loss of biodiversity.

“We have run out of time and the changes need to be made now. The key message from NatWest’s Green Cities Report is that we can and must all contribute to making our towns and cities as green as possible, so it could not have come at a more appropriate moment.

“The list will enable cities and people to reflect on their progress towards behaving sustainably. Simple changes can make a big difference — walking, cycling or using public transport rather than going by car, using less and recycling more — but we all need to get involved.”

‘Cut carbon emissions’ 

Cardiff council has plans to cut carbon emissions across the city to net zero by 2030. These include changing how people travel, building a giant district heat network in the Bay, and a potential campaign to get individuals to change their behaviour. Other recent plans were criticised for potentially increasing emissions, like reopening Castle Street to private traffic.

Last weekend saw a huge demonstration of thousands of climate protesters march from City Hall through the city centre and ending at the Senedd, to demand serious action is taken at the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow.

NatWest commissioned the study to mark its app’s new carbon footprint tracking feature, letting users track carbon emissions related to their spending habits. David Lindberg, CEO, Retail Banking at NatWest, said: “It’s great to see cities like Sheffield and Edinburgh leading the way when it comes to creating a greener environment.

“We are extremely excited to be launching carbon footprint tracking in association with CoGo as a UK banking first. It empowers customers to manage their own carbon footprint, helping them to make small changes that can add up and help tackle climate change. We want to help set and raise the standards that the rest of the banking industry should follow.

“Cop26 is an extraordinary opportunity for the UK to lead the world in tackling climate change. We are very proud of our partnership with Cop26 which further highlights our determination to be the leader in the transition to a low carbon economy across the financial services industry.”

Sheffield ranked first due to its huge amount of green space and renewable energy production, and high percentage of ultra-low emission vehicles. Edinburgh also scored highly due to a large amount of green space and a relatively low number of car commuters.


The study ranked the cities as follows:

  1. Sheffield
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Cardiff
  4. Brighton & Hove
  5. Bristol
  6. Leeds
  7. Glasgow
  8. Nottingham
  9. Newcastle upon Tyne
  10. Belfast
  11. London
  12. Salford
  13. Manchester
  14. Derby
  15. Wakefield
  16. Liverpool
  17. Plymouth
  18. Bradford
  19. Stoke-on-Trent
  20. Birmingham
  21. Hull
  22. Leicester
  23. Coventry
  24. Sunderland
  25. Wolverhampton

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Mr Williams
Mr Williams
2 years ago

Ardderchog prif dinas!

2 years ago

This is going to annoy people on Twitter who seem to insist that Cardiff some kind of concrete dystopia.

Curiously those people never actually live in Cardiff. It’s a wonderful city.

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