Copenhagen aims to be world’s first carbon neutral capital

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Copenhagen’s ambitious plan to be 100% carbon-neutral by the year 2025 – the first national capital to do so.

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Copenhagen’s ambitious plan to be 100% carbon-neutral by the year 2025 continues to move forward. This plan, once achieved, will make Copenhagen the world’s first carbon-neutral capital. The City Council there, acting on the plan approved last August, will soon begin the first of several large-scale changes.

These changes include: replacing coal power with biomass, adding more wind and solar energy to the grid, improving energy efficiency, increasing bike use/improving infrastructure, and improving public/mass transportation systems.

Copenhagen, and more broadly Denmark, already possess substantial renewable energy infrastructure and capacity, and of course a strong cycling culture, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

With regards to cycling, 36% of all trips taken to work or school are currently via bike. These trips are taken over a 249-mile expanse of bicycle tracks. And during peak travel times, more than 20,000 cyclists, on average, enter the city every day. That’s all pretty impressive, but with some infrastructure improvements, those numbers could likely rise much higher.

By the year 2025, the city is aiming for 75% of all trips to be made either by foot, bicycle, or public transit. To achieve this goal, the city is implementing a variety of new infrastructure improvements/changes: “green wave” traffic signals set to the speed of oncoming bikes, 44 miles of new bicycle tracks (paved paths separated from cars and pedestrians by curbs), “angled footrests that enable cyclists to rest without dismounting at intersections,” improvements to existing tracks — making them wider, smoother, and better lit, and the creation of “bicycle superhighways.”

The first of these 26 planned bicycle superhighways opened just last year — an 11-mile link connecting Albertslund with Copenhagen. Two more are currently under construction, to be followed by a further 23 after that.

With regards to mass transit, the currently in construction “City Circle Line,” once completed, will put 85% of the city’s population within only 650 yards of a Metro station. That should provide a substantial boost to the Metro’s ridership once it’s completed in 2018, and help to take some cars off the road. And the city’s bus fleet is currently been converted to run on biogas. “The city projects that 20 percent to 30 percent of all cars and small trucks, and 30 percent to 40 percent of all heavy vehicles, will run on electricity, hydrogen, biogas, or bioethanol by 2025,” Yale Environment 360 notes.

With regards to renewable energy and energy efficiency, there is already substantial infrastructure in place. Wind power currently supplies about 30% of Denmark’s electricity. And there are “state-of-the-art facilities where waste heat from power plants is used to keep buildings warm via the world’s largest district heating network, or where waters from the city harbor are deployed to cool department stores, office buildings, hotels, and data centers.”

As a result of this infrastructure, Copenhagen has been able to reduce its emissions by 21% from 2005 to 2011. Currently, the city emits about 2 million tons of CO2 a year. “Earlier initiatives were on target to reduce emissions to 1.16 million tons by 2025. The new plan approved last year will slash CO2 emissions even further, to about 400,000 tons by 2025. More time will be needed to wean private cars from fossil fuels. So Copenhagen plans to add at least 100 wind turbines to the grid over the next dozen years, and wind electricity not used in the city will be exported to other parts of Denmark to offset Copenhagen’s remaining several hundred thousand tons of transportation emissions.”

“Copenhageners like the ambition, they like being part of the idea of going green for the whole city,” Copenhagen Lord Mayor Frank Jensen said in an interview with Yale Environment 360. “Our focus as a city, as citizens, is all about livability.”

Interesting to note, as the mayor mentions, is that many of the city residents themselves “are putting their own money into the low-carbon drive, half of the turbines in the harbor wind farm, known as Middelgrunden (pictured above), were funded by individual Copenhagen shareholders.”

That sort of personal monetary investment isn’t really present, to a large degree anyways, in many other regions, and will no doubt be very helpful in the fulfilling of Copenhagen’s ambitious plans.

It’s currently estimated that direct city investment in the 2025 Climate Plan will total “only” around $472 million, but with private funds factored in it could be as high as $4.78 billion, according to Copenhagen officials. “We can see that we have to invest a lot of money to reach the target,” Mayor Jensen told me. “But we can see also that we can create a lot of new jobs with that huge investment. Copenhagen can be a green laboratory for developing and testing new green solutions.”

“It’s a very ambitious plan,” he said. “But it’s also something we can do.”

This article was originally posted on Cleantechnica. Re-produced with permission.

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1 Comment
  1. Useful Design 6 years ago

    City of Sydney please note! They’re still citing Copenhagen in defence of their irrational Cogen/Trigen warm-water based energy distribution grid Masterplan. Well, CoS Co/Trigen Masterplan author Alan Jones is at least.

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