Much has been achieved since 2005 to decarbonise Copenhagen within 20 years, but the city has used up its easy emission reduction options without even reaching half way. A city alone has limited powers to act. To complete its journey, Copenhagen needs the national government to step in with tough legislation, particularly on switching road transport off fossil fuel
Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city, was an early mover on the energy transition and is often hailed by other cities as an example to follow. In the 12 years between 2005 and 2017 the city reduced its carbon emissions by 42%. The reduction would sound impressive were it not for the fact Copenhagen intends to reach zero emissions in barely half the time it took to achieve this decrease, well knowing the easiest cuts have already been made. “We are facing a gigantic task,” says Jørgen Abildgaard, project manager of the city’s climate plan.
The idea of becoming a climate neutral city was born in 2007, when Copenhagen was gearing up to host the COP15 UN Climate Summit in December 2009. Both the Danish government and municipalities were interested in using the summit to showcase the country’s standing as a climate action frontrunner. “Research and analysis was initiated to find out what was possible,” says Abildgaard. “At a conference at the city hall, experts suggested the 2025 target of carbon neutrality. In 2009, the city council decided to pursue that goal and in 2012, the Copenhagen 2025 Climate Plan became reality.”
But the midway report from June 2018 shows Copenhagen has a long way to go. On its current trajectory, the city and its 800,000 population will still be pumping out around 200,000 tonnes of carbon every year by 2025.
Energy Cities, a European association of local authorities, estimates a city will need between €1 billion and €3 billion to reach net zero emissions by 2050
City achieves global first with aggressive retroactive climate rules for building stock
The deep retrofit of the Empire State Building showcases efficient use of energy, but more will be needed
Inspiring architects to make buildings green and good looking
The economic argument for switching from diesel to electric is gaining strength
In an interview with FORESIGHT Climate & Energy, Frank Jensen, mayor of Copenhagen, explains why mayors and local authorities are uniquely positioned to lead the energy transition and implement measures to proof their cities against extreme weather
Cooperation and social justice are at the heart of plans by the historic university city of Leuven, Belgium to become carbon neutral, as is the radical idea of giving owners no choice but to energy-renovate their homes
Sixty-two per cent of people living in Copenhagen cycle to work or school, pedalling 1.44 million kilometres every day. The city has invested more than €40 per head in bike infrastructure
Even if many cities are finding it a challenge to meet decarbonisation targets, they have made progress over the last decade and are becoming increasingly ambitious
Architects in Copenhagen are creating islands to offer a new way for inhabitants and visitors to explore their connection to the city's coastal waters
Despite the massive amount of solar power output in Europe this summer and the technology’s falling prices, building owners are still reluctant to put panels on their roofs. Tübingen, Germany is introducing legislation to force change