Sustainable Copenhagen


Copenhagen is one of the greenest cities in Europe and in the world. In 2014 the city received the European Commission’s European Green Capital Award for ranking number one on the European Green City Index and it is rated continuously among the most livable cities in the world as an example in municipal sustainability.

The urban population of Copenhagen is just a little bit over 1.2 million and it is the capital of Denmark and the country’s most populous city. Combining sustainable solutions with growth and high quality of life make the city and country at all often top international happiness surveys. The city is surrounded by water and parks. You can experience some of the many sustainable hotels, eat organic, and ride the electric city bikes around the old maritime city.

What are Copenhagen goals?

Copenhagen is growing, but this fact doesn’t stop the city’s ambitious plan and it is on track to be carbon neutral by 2025. New sustainable city districts are designed with an approach to urban planning and green living to be livable and people-friendly.

The carbon-neutral goal is supported by the CPH 2025 Climate Plan, which the City Council adopted in 2009. The city already met its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2015. For comparison since 1995, Copenhagen has reduced carbon emissions by 50 percent. The CPH 2025 Climate Plan is a combined collection of specific goals and initiatives within four focus areas:

  • Energy Consumption
  • Energy Production
  • Green Mobility
  • City Administration Initiatives

Some of the sustainable city solutions are:

  • Increased mobility through integrated transport and cycling solutions has helped to reduced congestion significantly and improved the health of the citizens. Denmark is one of the countries with the highest investment in bike lanes and super cycle highways.
  • Attractive urban areas with a better quality of life, improved local business life, created jobs and generated revenue in the area. The harbor has been cleaned, which now allows Copenhageners to swim in it.
  • A very efficient district heating system where 98 % of all households are connected.
  • An implementation of a new district cooling system where cold is taken of the harbor water. This helps save over 70% of the energy compared to traditional air-conditioning.

Cargo Bike in Copenhagen
Photo by News Oresund via FlickrCC

Reasons for Copenhagen’s success

The city is achieving these goals through a transition of our energy supply, building retrofits, waste management, public infrastructure, and other initiatives to support the transition on a long-term basis.

But to be successful, Copenhagen is collaborating with companies and knowledge institutions to find new solutions to specific challenges, which secures and improves the quality of life in Copenhagen and creates opportunities for innovation, jobs and green growth.

By 2025 based on analysis and forecast, the direct city investment in the decarbonization efforts will have reached around $472m, while private investors may have provided as much as $4.78 billion.

“We’ve looked at how climate change will affect Copenhagen in the long-term future”, says Lykke Leonardsen. “For Copenhagen, the most serious effect of climate change will be increased precipitation, so we’ve developed a plan that addresses how to catch all the rainwater in the city.” Leonardsen, a city planner, part of the team working on long-term climate change adaptation.

“In adapting to climate change, cities can choose either grey or green infrastructure,” says Professor Stuart Gaffin, a research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University.

They are successfully combining growth, development, and quality of life with reduced CO2 emissions.

Some of the reasons are a large number of green areas, some of the cleanest water in the world – for drinking and swimming, a clean harbour and a world-famous cycling culture overflowing with bicycles, and high availability and consumption of organic produce. Denmark has been ranked as one of the safest countries in the world.

“The difference between Copenhagen and other major cities is that they’re very concrete in the short term and also look at what they need to do for the very, very long-term future”, says Brian Vad Mathiesen, an associate professor of development and planning at Aalborg University.

Want to learn more about sustainable travel? Check our other posts.

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