Reykjavík was not chosen as Europe’s “Green Capital” of 2012-2013, as many had hoped; that honour went to Vitoria-Gasteiz of Spain and Nantes in France.
Last April, Reykjavík began competing with Barcelona and Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain, Malmö in Sweden, Nantes in France and Nuremburg in Germany for the “green capital” title. The judging criteria, according to the official website, was to “provide information on a variety of indicator areas with regard to their present environmental status and results, what they are doing to improve the urban living conditions, their future initiatives and dissemination plans.”
Reykjavík, while making use of geothermal energy, certainly qualified in that aspect. However, the city is also very much a “car town” – automobile traffic pervades all of downtown, the single bike path that did traverse downtown was removed weeks after being put in place, over 50% of available city land in devoted to the car in the form of roads and parking spaces, “clean” transportation is virtually non-existent in favor of car traffic, and air pollution in the spring is a real problem as people continue using spiked winter tires after the ice has melted.
Nonetheless, a statement from the Environmental and Transport Department of the city announced that Reykjavík came out on top in terms of overall air quality, which they took as a point of pride. They also say that the city will continue to head in the same direction with regards to environmental matters.