Sheffield is the UK's greenest city according to a new study of the UK’s 25 most populous cities from NatWest. Three of the UK's four nations are represented in the top three, with Edinburgh second and Cardiff third. The city of Sheffield – once the steel-making capital of the world, famous for its cutlery trade - takes top spot after taking all the metrics into account. 

NatWest’s Green Cities Report, developed in conjunction with experts from the University of Southampton, was commissioned as part of the bank’s climate strategy to support UK consumers in going greener and marks the launch of carbon footprint tracking on NatWest’s banking app - a first for a UK bank - in association with climate data experts CoGo. The new feature will allow customers an integrated and tracked view of their personal carbon footprint based on their spending habits. The Report and introduction of carbon tracking are part of the bank’s strategic focus on helping cities, communities and individuals understand their own carbon impact, and support them with practical and meaningful ways to make their spending greener. 

Simon Watson, Climate Sponsor for Retail Banking at NatWest Group, explains more:

In the Report, with lead input from Professor William Powrie, the UK's 25 biggest cities by population were analysed and ranked using a range of environmental data. Seventeen criteria were considered and weighted, with cities ranked based on their scores of six overall categories: green space, energy use/production, motor vehicles, waste and recycling, commuting travel and pollution.  

Sheffield ranked highly on several criteria including size of green spaces and green energy production. Thanks to 22,600 acres of green space (the equivalent of 155m2 per resident) and a high volume of renewable energy production (71MWh/1,000 people annually - second only to windfarm-central city of Hull), the city scored particularly well in key areas. Residents of Sheffield also use a relatively low amount of energy per person compared to other cities and have a high percentage of ULEZ vehicles. 

Sheffield has already taken big steps towards their goal of becoming a net-zero carbon city by 2050 and has won several awards for the city’s ‘Grey to Green’ scheme - the largest planned retrofitted sustainable urban drainage scheme in the UK which converted former dual carriageway into greenspace and seating, a cycle route and generous footways while also improving the area’s resilience to flooding.i

The Scottish capital Edinburgh is the UK’s second greenest city and visually the greenest with the equivalent of 233.3m2 area of green space per head, one of the lowest numbers of car commuters and a high percentage of ULEZ vehicles. 

The UK’s capital London was 11th on the list, with green credentials including a high number of ULEV vehicles per capita – due in part to residents getting ready for the expansion of the ULEZ zone on the 25th October – and 159,000 Londoners (3.5% of the city’s population) commuting by bike regularly. Londoners also produce a relatively low amount of waste per person compared to other cities. 

Wolverhampton ranked bottom of the list overall, with the equivalent of only 25m2 of green space person, high car ownership and high numbers of people commuting by car. They also had a low percentage of ULEZ vehicles. 

The carbon footprint tracking feature has been integrated into NatWest’s personal banking app. The new insight will allow customers to see their personal carbon impact in a straightforward and clear way and enabling them to make small, positive changes to their lifestyle. 


David Lindberg, CEO, Retail Banking at NatWest, said: “It’s great to see cities like Sheffield and Edinburgh leading the way when it comes to creating a greener environment.  We are extremely excited to be launching carbon footprint tracking in association with CoGo as a UK banking first. It empowers customers to manage their own carbon footprint, helping them to make small changes that can add up and help tackle climate change.  We want to help set and raise the standards that the rest of the banking industry should follow.”

“COP26 is an extraordinary opportunity for the UK to lead the world in tackling climate change.  We are very proud of our partnership with COP26 which further highlights our determination to be the leader in the transition to a low carbon economy across the financial services industry.”


Professor William Powrie from the University of Southampton, the lead expert behind NatWest’s Green Cities report, said: “Extreme weather events of the past year together with the focus on sustainability ahead of COP26 have brought home the need for changes in the way we live if we are to mitigate the effects of the twin environmental catastrophes of climate change and loss of biodiversity. We have run out of time and the changes need to be made now. The key message from NatWest’s Green Cities Report is that we can and must all contribute to making our towns and cities as green as possible, so it could not have come at a more appropriate moment. The list will enable cities and people to reflect on their progress towards behaving sustainably. Simple changes can make a big difference - walking, cycling or using public transport rather than going by car, using less and recycling more; but we all need to get involved.”

“It’s great to see Sheffield scooping the accolade of the UK’s Greenest City, with schemes like their Grey to Green campaign creating high quality green recreational and active transport corridors, helping people behave more sustainably in their daily lives, and benefitting the city’s environmental trajectory.”


Emma Kisby, CoGo CEO, adds; “When looking at the issue of climate change and sustainability as a whole we know that it can be daunting and people often don’t know where to start, but at CoGo we believe that everyone can do their bit, no matter how big or small. Knowledge is power and it is not until we each know and understand the individual impact we are having on the world that we can make positive changes. That’s why this partnership with Natwest is so welcome. It will allow NatWest’s customers to easily understand the impact that they are having and provide useful advice to help drive change.”


i10- Green City Strategy Appendix 1.pdf (sheffield.gov.uk)

According to NatWest’s Green Cities report, the UK’s greenest cities rank as follows: 

  1. Sheffield
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Cardiff
  4. Brighton & Hove
  5. Bristol
  6. Leeds
  7. Glasgow
  8. Nottingham
  9. Newcastle upon Tyne
  10. Belfast
  11. London
  12. Salford
  13. Manchester
  14. Derby
  15. Wakefield
  16. Liverpool
  17. Plymouth
  18. Bradford
  19. Stoke-on-Trent
  20. Birmingham
  21. Hull
  22. Leicester
  23. Coventry
  24. Sunderland
  25. Wolverhampton



This is for media use and not a financial promotion.

Carbon Footprint Tracker available once opted in via the Spending feature in our app, and is provided in conjunction with CoGo. Spending and app criteria apply.

scroll to top