London is set to become the world’s first National Park city

The city of London is aiming to become the first National Park city in the world as part of the effort to go green and reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Cities around the globe are big polluters of the Earth.

Scientific American reports that “residents of just 100 cities account for 20 percent of humanity’s overall carbon footprint, according to a new estimate of carbon dioxide emissions.”

That’s an important statistic that needs to change considering the United Nations says that one million species on the planet are at risk of extinction because of human activity.

People and nations around the globe are working hard to do something about it. In the United Kingdom, sustainable orchards are being planted to feed humans and wildlife. The UK also just completed a full week without using coal for electricity for the first time since 1882.

And while these initiatives are noble, the city of London is still a major polluter with an air quality that could worsen as the population grows.

That’s why former geography teacher Daniel Raven-Ellison came up with an idea to turn the city into a National Park city.

“London is not just a city, it’s a landscape,” he told CNN last year. “It’s a landscape that’s home not just to nearly nine million people, but there are as many trees. We share this city with 15,000 other species of wildlife and I don’t think that urban life is worth any less than that life that we see in maybe those more distant places from cities.”

“When I started off, a lot of people just thought that I was a bit bonkers,” he continued. “But whether it took five seconds, five minutes, or five months, people have really awakened to this big idea that could really improve life in London.”

Indeed, Raven-Ellison crowdfunded so much money for his idea that London Mayor Sadiq Khan partnered with him and set about to make his idea a reality.

According to World Economic Forum:

At its current 47% green cover, Greater London is already one of the world’s most vegetated cities. One-third of the city is open green space, while an additional 14% of greenery is in private gardens. In comparison, just 10% of Paris and 27% of New York are green.

To reach its goal of becoming 50% green space by 2050, London is asking residents to turn a patch of ‘grey space’ into green space. This could be by lifting paving in the driveway, or replacing garden decking with grass. It’s also repeating the call to drill holes in garden fences so that hedgehogs can move around freely.

The city is also funding tree-planting projects and roof gardens that would attract birds and bees, not to mention reduce the heat coming from the city.

Helping bees is particularly crucial because the pollinator is in serious trouble around the world.

King’s College London lecturer Robert Crowley says the project will improve spaces a bit, but it could end up inspiring bigger effects.

“I think if you look at their particular targets they’re not so different to what we’ve got already in terms of the amount of green space and access to greenery,” Cowley told CNN. “It will probably improve some places incrementally, but on the other hand, you never know what new initiatives are going to spark a wider effect. It’s worth trying.”

The National Park City Foundation is now hoping to help other cities become greener. Many cities don’t need help, but many others do.

There’s no reason why cities can’t be integrated better with nature to provide a sustainable environment for both humans and wildlife. It’s not a silver bullet to solve our climate change crisis, but it will play a large part.

London is officially launching as a National Park city in July.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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