Era of Cities event: Copenhagen on the final stretch towards carbon neutrality

05.05.2021 | 6Aika - en
Cover for article 'Era of Cities event: Copenhagen on the final stretch towards carbon neutrality'

Photo: Ursula Bach

Copenhagen seeks to be carbon-neutral within the next four years. Current measures show that the City will reduce emissions more than 80 per cent. What has been done to achieve this, and which challenges does Copenhagen still need to resolve?

The CPH2025 Climate Plan is built on four pillars: energy consumption, energy production, mobility and the City administration’s initiative in climate work.

Copenhagen’s Climate Plan Project Manager Klaus Bundgaard highlights the key experiences of each entity at the 6Aika Era of Cities event.

“To reduce energy consumption, we have a close partnership with the largest building owner in the City. We are measuring consumption and optimising their systems to be as efficient as possible,” Bundgaard says.

The lessons learned from the collaboration will be expanded to be used by the rest of the City and other operators in the property sector.

“In energy production, succeeding in introducing wind power and a carbon capture system before 2025 is key,” Bundgaard says.

Regarding mobility, Copenhagen is about to complete two analyses on the subject. The analyses aim to show how carbon dioxide emissions from traffic can be reduced by modifying infrastructure.

According to Bundgaard, administrative climate work should focus on setting targets that support carbon neutrality and are sufficiently ambitious. In addition to this, the City needs to test new solutions to help achieve its emissions reduction goals.

“The solutions need to be such that they can be used throughout the City.”

Traffic poses the greatest challenge

Copenhagen’s roadmap to carbon neutrality is divided into three periods, each of which involves several recommendations. The first period started in 2012. The City is now in the last period, which involves over 60 initiatives.

The initiatives include multiple items aiming for the sustainable heating of buildings. Things such as carbon-neutral sewage treatment and bus lines, as well as a showroom for climate work, are also included in the initiatives.

Copenhagen’s greatest challenge is traffic. Even though residents cycle a lot, the use of private cars has not decreased as much as planned. Additionally, cars and heavy vehicles do not use alternative fuels as much as they should.

“This is mainly because the government has not set its goals sufficiently high. But this is changing, and I believe that traffic will change in the next three years as a result of the national policies,” Bundgaard says.

Photo: Ursula Bach

A carbon-neutral city requires diverse partnerships

To achieve its emissions reduction goals, the City of Copenhagen has formed partnerships with universities and businesses. It also acts as a testing platform for future climate solutions. The City has seen several projects in which scalable solutions have been developed.

“One of the collaborative projects is EnergyLab Nordhavn, which tests and demonstrates flexible energy system that utilises renewable energy.”

Furthermore, cooperation with residents is key. People need to reduce their energy consumption, demand CO2-neutral energy and choose a bicycle or public transport in place of owning a private car.

One example of cooperation with residents is a project called Climate Task Force.

“We set up urban development projects in specific areas of the city, and develop a five-year plan with the local community. Now we integrate the climate agenda in this normal development process.”

Five tips to cities on their way to carbon neutrality

According to Bundgaard, each city has individual factors that impact emissions reductions. They may be based on the city’s history, location or residents.

However, the climate work done in Copenhagen has provided lessons from which other cities can also benefit. Bundgaard suggests that cities look at the following factors:

1) Set ambitious climate targets that push the limits of your city and require innovation and immediate action.

2) Prepare a comprehensive climate plan with short-term goals that also allow for flexibility.

3) Involve citizens, businesses and universities in making the change.

4) Use the city as a living lab for future climate solutions.

5) Form partnerships and learn from other cities with similar goals.


Watch the presentation by Copenhagen’s Climate Plan Project Manager Klaus Bundgaard at the Six City Strategy’s Era of Cities event: https://youtu.be/yFB2u7LiTRI. Bundgaard was also interviewed for this article.