Danish capital and ICLEI member Copenhagen became European Green Capital 2014 this month, taking over from 2013’s winner Nantes (France).
Copenhagen has the ambitious target of being entirely carbon neutral by 2025. This includes having 50 percent of its people cycling to their place of work or education by 2015. The city has also been commended for successfully engaging its citizens in sustainability campaigns, communicating Copenhageners’ potential to be part of the solution.
Frank Jensen, Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor, said, “Copenhageners cycle every day, sort their rubbish and support the use of wind and biomass instead of coal at the city’s power stations. The green transition has helped raise the Copenhageners’ standard of living, while the ambitious goals and enormous investments help create economic growth and new jobs for business.”
Copenhagen does not only have the ambition to become the first CO2 neutral capital in the world, but also to be the world’s best city for cyclists by 2025. Already today, about half of Copenhagen’s population use bicycles to get to work or education. The newly appointed technical and environmental major of Copenhagen, Morten Kabell from the Red-Green Alliance, will build more bicycle lanes close to car lanes but separated from them, and will broaden bicycle lanes affected by traffic congestion in the mornings and afternoons. Over the past three years, Copenhagen has invested more than 52 million euro in urban cycling. The future plan is that no Copenhagener should live farther away from a park or a beach than a fifteen minute walk.
In order to secure the supply of district heating and electricity in a sustainable way, the city-owned Greater Copenhagen Utility has acquired the Amager power plant, situated close to the city, from the state owned Swedish Vattenfall. The two aggregates are today partly coal-fired, which is supposed to change to biomass-fired. Already in the near future they will replace older power plants. Since the utility is also expanding on wind power, its CEO Lars Thorkildsen sees the utility making a major contribution in the future to the government’s goal of obtaining fifty percent of Denmark’s electricity from wind power by 2020. The energy industry welcomes the return of local public utility owners.
The new Green Capital has already found its way to Wikipedia, where “Copenhagenisation” is described as “a design strategy centred around making a city more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians and less car dependent – it is how to improve the quality of sustainable urban life.”