Why Brisbane is one of the world’s greenest cities

Living in an environmentally-conscious city is something all astute buyers crave. Whether it’s air quality and particulate matter or inner-city green spaces, there’s a lot to consider and a lot of data to wade through.

This week, the World Council on City Data (WCCD) has released a report detailing the global context of Brisbane as an environmental city. Highlighting a slew of influencing factors, the report reveals Brisbane is leading the pack with initiatives to create a clean and green environment.

Our River City has a fine particulate matter concentration of 7.3μg/m³, a measure of how clean the air is. In comparison, the air in London measures 14.2μg/m³ — almost double Brisbane. Air in Los Angeles, Toronto and Oslo is also significantly dirtier than Brisbane.

Brisbane’s excellent air quality comes as a result of several environmental initiatives by the government, with the low-emission enhanced environmentally friendly buses being one of the most significant of these. These buses, which now make up 85% of the city’s bus fleet, have resulted in a 66% reduction in particulate matter in the air. In 2016, Brisbane received the Clean Air Achievement Award from the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand, as a recognition of these efforts.

There are also four other main statistics included in the report, which puts Brisbane in a global context. These include:

  • Green area per 100,000 people
  • Annual number of trees planted per 100,000 people
  • Square metres of public outdoor recreation space per capita
  • Kilometres of light passenger public transport system per 100,000 people

In terms of the public outdoor recreation space, Brisbane sits almost exactly on par with Los Angeles at 39.3 square metres per person. Thanks to our many parks and sports fields, as well as the Botanical Gardens and South Bank, Brisbane’s public outdoor recreation space is well-enjoyed. With many new house and land developments incorporating a large communal park ground and working to conserve green space, this is expected to continue for many years to come.

The CityCycle initiative and implementation of Lime Scooters throughout the City are key contributors to the light passenger public transport indicator, in which Brisbane sits at 287 kilometres per 100,000 people. With over 2,000 CityCycle bikes across 150 stations in Brisbane, and 750 Lime Scooters placed throughout the inner suburbs, Brisbanites took nearly 800,000 rides on CityCycles in 2018, and over 500,000 trips on Lime Scooters in the four months since their introduction. Thanks to these proactive efforts as well as the Active School Travel program, Brisbanites are not only enjoying cleaner air but a healthy and active lifestyle.

One of the most impressive indicators of Brisbane’s performance is the number of trees planted per 100,000 people. While Barcelona sits at 200, London at 527, Portland at 853 and Surrey at 960, Brisbane sits at an astonishingly-impressive 3533.

As well as the council’s commitment to tree planting, a focus on environmentally-friendly developments have also contributed significantly to this. With house and land estates focusing on dense planting and landscaping for new properties and apartment developments with Green Plot Ratios of over 100%, Brisbane’s developers are also focusing on continuing Brisbane’s reputation as an environmentally-conscious city.

Written: 13 March 2019, Updated: 16 January 2020

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