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Green cities in Poland? How are we adapting to climate change?

Wiktor Bochenek
20 of January '22

In the face of inexorable climate change, striving for the ideal of "Green cities" seems to be the best solution. What Polish cities create conditions for improving the quality of life?

map of green cities that took the highest positions in the ranking

© Europolis

report and methodology

Europolis is an initiative focusing on the issue of urban development. The report Green Cities. Polish Cities for Climate, Environment and Population Health was developed by the think tank Polityka Insight , commissioned by the Polish Robert Schuman Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Orange Polska is a partner of the report. The lead author was Jakub Pinzal, working with Agnieszka Górniak, Monika Helak and Alicja Obrębska.

The term green cities refers to the assumptions of sustainable development. The main goal of such cities is to create conditions for meeting the needs of modern societies without reducing the opportunities of future generations, primarily in economic, social and environmental terms.

How will cities fare in this process? In last year's Europolis survey devoted to assessing the possibility and severity of various emergencies, representatives of Polish cities confirmed that they are aware of the problems resulting from climate change. Almost all of the dangers identified from this category, i.e. heat, air pollution, strong winds, droughts and severe frosts, were among the top ten most likely crisis phenomena. So the awareness of the dangers and the need for change are there," points out Iga Kamocka, a member of the Schuman Foundation's Board of Directors.

For the report, a ranking was created, consisting of five indicators such as individual electric transportation, public transportation, air quality measures, community and public health. In each of these, a city could receive a maximum of one hundred points, which were awarded based on thirty quantitative and qualitative measures.

The report focuses not only on metropolises such as Warsaw, Krakow and Katowice, but also on cities with county rights. The ranking took into account sixty-six cities.

Individual electric transportation

In the sub-index on individual electric transport, the first place went to Gdynia. In 2020, there were seven electric cars per ten thousand residents. The result may not impress, but it is three times higher than the average for the entire list. Gdynia was also the first to start a pilot program of electric car sharing, organized by PKP Mobility. Second place went to the city of Bialystok, thanks primarily to its heavy investment in roads. Third place went to Siedlce, due to the extent of its street network (433 kilometers of roads per 100 square kilometers of county).


Gdynia leads Poland in terms of electromobility

Photo: Rafał Konkolewski, © CC BY 2.5

public transportation

The public transportation index took into account not only public transportation, but also the ability to travel on foot and by bicycle. The category was dominated by Warsaw, which topped all metrics. It dominated the ranking in terms of vehicle kilometers per capita, number of stops per square kilometer and electrification of transportation. The capital city also fared well in the length of bus lanes and the number of urban bicycles. Warsaw fared the worst in the length of bicycle lanes, ranking seventeenth.

Second and third place went to Wrocław and Poznań, respectively. Both cities did best in the number of urban bicycles, the use of public transportation and the percentage of transportation by electric transport. The advantage of the capital of Lower Silesia over the capital of Greater Poland was in the number of bus lanes.

The authors of the report emphasize that the category of public transportation proved difficult for almost all cities, although metropolises fare much better in this regard.


Public transportation is best organized in Warsaw

Photo: Radek Kolakowski, © CC BY-SA 0

air quality measures

The air quality index was based primarily on measures for replacing fossil fuels. High air quality is an element that is often beyond the capabilities of local government, being dependent on government or geography. The winner in this category was Katowice. The Silesian capital spent the most money on replacing stoves, developed a program to develop renewable energy sources, and campaigned for clean air.

Second place went to Łódź, which spent nearly three hundred million zlotys on improving the air in 2021. The last place on the podium went to Kalisz, which exceeded the smog alert only once during the year.

największym zaskoczeniem dla
analityków było prowadzenie Katowic w rankingu działań na rzecz poprawienia jakości powietrza

The biggest surprise for analysts, was Katowice's lead in the ranking of measures to improve air quality

Photo: Piotr Bieniecki, © CC BY-SA 4.0

local community

An important element of green cities solutions is the involvement of local communities. The authors of the report emphasize that in this category the most important were cities in which residents themselves support the authorities, creating the right conditions for sustainable development.

First place went to Myslowice, which led the way in terms of waste segregation, water conservation or the number of projects submitted to the civic budget. Myslowice residents also engaged in protests, including against the construction of an apartment complex on an urban forest and recreation space.

Second and third place went to Radom and Bielsko-Biala, respectively. The former owes its high ranking to a reduction in municipal waste, and the community itself submits more than enough projects for civic budgets. Bielsko-Biala residents were more likely to act on urban greenery and produce less waste than other cities.

This is the only indicator in which medium-sized cities played a dominant role. Łódź, Poznań, Wrocław, Warsaw and Kraków were among the ten worst cities.


In the "local community" category, first place went to Myslowice

Photo: Adrian Tync, © CC BY-SA 4.0

public health

The public health index was calculated on the basis of the ability to reduce deaths, ease of access to medicines for the elderly or the number of doctors per thousand residents.

The best score was achieved by the Subcarpathian capital, Rzeszow. The city boasts the highest number of doctors and beds per capita. The second and third places went to Lublin and Olsztyn, also distinguished by the number of beds and doctors.

Rzeszów przodował pod
względem zdrowia publicznego

Rzeszow won in the health category

Photo: Daniel Zolopa ,© CC BY-SA 3.0


The winner of the ranking was Lublin, which did not win in any of the five indices. The city was on the podium only once, but did well in the indicators of public transportation and air quality measures. The city set ambitious goals for electric vehicle charging stations, trolleybus development and energy efficiency.

podsumowując wyniki rankingu
najwyższą pozycje zajął Lublin

Summarizing the results of the ranking, the highest position was taken by Lublin

Photo: Pankrzysztoff, © CC BY-SA 3.0

Second place went to Katowice, performing only slightly worse than Lublin. The high place was likely earned due to its rate of air quality measures. The city also has an excellent public health infrastructure.

Third place went to Lodz, primarily due to its air quality measures, public transportation and individual electric transport.

ranking wszystkim miast
wziętych pod uwagę w badaniu

ranking of all cities considered in the survey

© Europolis

The report Green Cities. Polish Cities for Climate, Environment and Population Health emphatically shows not only how we are developing, but also where we are developing. The juxtaposition of large metropolises with small and medium-sized cities on the issue of climate action shows the disparity in economics and capabilities. The primacy of large centers, however, is in question. However, the report shows that there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to Polish green cities, from cities with county rights to large metropolises.

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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