Utrecht most sustainable city in NL, Amsterdam second: report

Solar_panels_on_a_roof Pujanak Wikimedia commons. ()

Utrecht scores the best of all Dutch cities when it comes to sustainability, according to by  Natuur & Milieu published on Tuesday. Amsterdam came in a close second, followed by Alkmaar.

Natuur & Milieu rated the 42 largest municipalities in the Netherlands on 12 sustainability indicators, such as whether they buy green electricity form a sustainable producer, their environmental zones, solar power use in the city, relative car use, household waste, and their ambition on energy-, climate- or CO2 neutrality.

Utrecht performed the best, scoring well in eight of the 12 indicators. Though the municipality is still struggling when it comes to solar power and dealing with household waste. Amsterdam received a similar score to Utrecht, scoring well in seven of the 12 indicators. In addition to also struggling with solar power and household waste, Amsterdam is also behind Utrecht when it comes to buying its electricity and its ambition on becoming energy-, climate or CO2 neutral, according to the study.

The researchers note that it is not surprising that Utrecht and Amsterdam - two of the largest cities in the Netherlands - are struggling when it comes to solar power. Due to the large number of apartment buildings and other skyscrapers in large cities, it is difficult for them to score well on the number of solar panels per resident. 

Alkmaar also scored well in seven indicators. But this municipality still has no ambition on energy-, climate- or CO2 neutrality, has no environmental zones and sets few sustainability demands when it comes to purchasing own transport. 

The researchers note that municipalities with ambitious climate goals are more likely to score well in the sustainability indicators. Utrecht, for example, wants to be climate neutral by 2030. Ambitious climate goals are often translated into concrete policy, such as stimulating solar panels or introducing an environmental zone, according to the researchers. 

Almere and Groningen came in 4th and 5th place. The bottom five is made up of Zoetermeer, Helmond, SIttard-Geleen, Emmen and Heerlen at the bottom.

"Municipalities have an important role to play in making the Netherlands more sustainable", Geertje van Hooidonk of Natuur & Milieu said. "But we see that only a part of them actively take on this role. The elections are a perfect moment to examine the municipalities."