Reports 2012/27

Cities and environment

Indicators for environmental development in the "Cities of the future"

Some of the greatest challenges to reconciling urban development with environmental considerations are found in the cities. The white paper no. 26 (2006- 2007) The government’s environmental policy and the state of the environment in Norway has also added to the importance of the urban environment with a comprehensive description of the land use and transport policy.

This report contains selected indicators and statistics that describe the urban environmental status and development in 13 of the largest cities or urban settlements in Norway. The “Cities of the Future”-programme started in 2008, and is based on an agreement between the cities, the private sector and the state, led by the Ministry of the Environment. These cities are Oslo, Bærum, Drammen, Sarpsborg, Fredrikstad, Porsgrunn, Skien, Kristiansand, Sandnes, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø.

“Cities of the Future” had close to 1.8 million inhabitants (as of 1 January 2012), which is equivalent to more than 1/3 of the population in Norway. In 2011 the population growth in these municipalities was about 46 per cent of the total population growth.

Good land use management contains indicators related to the density of land use and construction activities within urban settlements. The urban area per inhabitant decreased all together in the “Cities of the Future” from 2000 to 2012. During the period 2005-2010, the density in the “Cities of the Future” has increased, which means that a larger share of new buildings were built in already established urban settlements in this period. But for 2011 the density has for some reason decreased.

Too high density of built-up areas may be at the expense of access to playgrounds, recreational areas or touring grounds. Indicators on the population's access to these areas show that in 2011there is less access to these areas in the “Cities of the Future” compared to all urban settlements. During the period 2003-2011 playground and recreational areas seem to decline in size within the “Cities of the Future”.

Within transport, the focus is on the degree to which inhabitants choose to use environmentally-friendly transportation instead of cars. The use of environmentallyfriendly transportation among the “Cities of the Future” shows a slight growth in the period 2001-2009. The length of foot paths and cycle paths increased as well in the “Cities of the Future” from 2001 to 2011. The length of foot paths and cycle paths per 1 000 inhabitants was also longer in the “Cities of the Future” than in the country as a whole. Car density as well as the mileage driven in private cars among the “Cities of the Future” has increased during the period 2005-2011, although the mileage driven in private cars has been reduced during the period 2008-2011.

Local air pollution impacts health and welfare. All “Cities of the Future” exceeded the limit for concentrations of particles (PM10) in 2011. For NO2, only one city did not exceed the permitted limit in the same year.

Sales of commodity trade stores and proximity to these stores, together with distances from home to kindergartens and schools, can indicate whether a local authority has made provisions for environmental transportation. The main centre’s share of commodity trade (2006-2011) have had a negative development, while the share of residents who live less than 500 metres from a commodity trade store (2003-2012) have had a positive development. The share of children who live a short distance away from their kindergarten or school has increased (2003-2012) among the “Cities of the Future” as for the country as whole.

Indicators for environmentally-friendly services and practice include the local authorities’ collection and treatment of household waste, as well as the volume that goes to material recovery and incineration (2007-2011). An increased share of waste from the household now goes to environmental treatment. Companies that are certified under ISO14001 or as so-called Eco-lighthouse (Miljøfyrtårn) companies also increased in number during the period 2010 to 2012.

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