Copenhagen. Image: JaySi Shutterstock

Following the Paris Agreements and the public disclosure of alarming data on the state of our planet’s health, more than 70 major cities around the world have pledged to end their dependence on fossil fuels, with the ultimate goal of becoming zero emission cities by 2050. Among them, 20 cities have forged an alliance with even more ambitious objectives: the CNCA (Alliance of Zero Emission Cities).

But Copenhagen, city of wind turbines, bicycles and quality public transport, world leader in sustainable development for years and European Green Capital 2014, believes that it can (and must) go even further: intends to make this change in just six years, by 2025.

For those who think Copenhagen is too ambitious and you don’t really have to go that fast, the IPCC’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said humanity is only 12 years old. to stop the disastrous effects of climate change and prevent them from doomsday scenes from Hollywood movies come true.

The facts are clear and terribly alarming, but the majority of the world’s population and governments continue to act, consume and pollute as if nothing had happened. The city of Copenhagen intends to reverse this dangerous path, demonstrating that an alternative is not only possible but also attractive and that it wants to lead the rest of the world towards a sustainable future.

How Copenhagen will become a zero emission city.

The city’s strategy will focus on three key points: reduce energy consumption, produce energy from renewable sources and promote sustainable mobility and cycling.

Reduced energy consumption.

Reduced energy consumption and energy efficiency. We must reduce and consume better energy. A change that must be not only technological, but above all socio-cultural.

To achieve this objective, work will focus on the energy efficiency of existing residential buildings and on the creation of an energy saving model in businesses and in the service sector.

Along with the intervention in existing buildings, the construction of new buildings will be promoted as a model of energy efficiency and consumption reduction, in order to create increasingly ambitious objectives.

All supported by the use of technology to develop a smart city project in which a digital infrastructure collects public data on electricity and heat consumption, improving efficiency and minimizing waste.

Clean energy production.

Copenhagen wind turbines
Wind turbines in Copenhagen. Image: Tony Moran Shutterstock

Energy savings and energy efficiency will not allow them to abandon fossil fuels for good. Over the past 100 years, the city (and Denmark as a whole) has relied on a centralized heat production system by district rather than by household, reducing CO2 emissions by 50%.

The aim is to make the neighborhood model zero emissions by 2025, creating a flexible energy system based on wind power, biomass, geothermal energy and waste. The smart city will manage these energy flows, allowing it to meet the different energy needs of citizens and businesses in one day.

Copenhagen wants its recycling system to be extremely efficient, especially for plastics that require special treatment and cannot be incinerated. Another important point will be the separation of organic waste which will be treated in special biogas plants. The entire waste treatment chain will be controlled in a new state-of-the-art center where new technologies will maximize recycling and eliminate harmful emissions.

Sustainable mobility.

Copenhagen by bike. Image: Ikoimages Shutterstock

Copenhagen is the city with the most bicycles per capita in the world (Denmark comes next to the Netherlands) and one of the most efficient public transport systems. However, mobility still generates between 20 and 25% of CO2 emissions.

Their goal is that at least 75% of all trips be made on foot, by bicycle or by public transport. If the people of Copenhagen are traveling by car, the goal is to use as many electric, hybrid or hydrogen cars as possible, while the heavier vehicles will have to run on new fuels like biogas.

Companies will have to encourage the use of bicycles among their employees, in particular with regard to electric bicycles for long distances or, failing that, electric, hybrid or hydrogen cars.

Intelligent traffic control systems will be used to reduce emissions and increase the efficiency of public transport.

Copenhagen, the smart city of the future.

The efforts to achieve the zero emission goal will be supported by huge public and private investments, but this will not slow down the growth of the city, but, on the contrary, will initiate a new socio-economic process that combines economic development, sustainability. environment and quality of life: the call green growth. For those skeptics who do not understand how they can go together, since 1990, in the Danish capital, CO2 emissions have been reduced by more than 40% and in the same period there has been an economic growth of about 50%.

An important contribution in this regard is the district energy production system which, thanks to the cogeneration of heat and electricity, will double its efficiency and save citizens in annual consumption. Renewable energy sources are already cheaper than polluting sources today, but in the years to come the price of fossil fuels will rise so much that the comparison is unsustainable and choice is inevitable. Copenhagen is simply speeding up the process by calling for a smart and sustainable city model.