'Cycle superhighways' from the suburbs
To encourage even longer commutes to work by bike, Copenhagen opened the first of 26 "cycle superhighways" this year. A 22-kilometer (13.7-mile) bike lane with stoplights synchronized to favor cyclists was opened at a cost of 14.2 million crowns to connect downtown Copenhagen with the suburban town of Albertslund. Two more routes will open later this year.
Copenhagen is big enough that its climate solutions are relevant in an international setting but small enough that it can try out new ideas. The inner city of 537,000 is projected to grow by 100,000 inhabitants by 2025 and will have 20,000 more jobs, which will require 6.8 million square meters of new commercial and residential real estate.
The city will invest 1.4 billion crowns to renovate buildings owned by the municipality as well as replace streetlights with more energy-efficient bulbs. It aims to cut energy use in its own buildings by 40 percent and on-street lighting by 50 percent. All city vehicles will run on electricity, hydrogen or biofuels by 2025.
The city hopes its green plan -- which covers the Copenhagen municipality only, not the greater Copenhagen area of 1.5 million people with suburbs -- will also make it a knowledge hub, with an ambition to attract and keep scientists and high-tech companies from elsewhere.
Since 1990, Copenhagen has reduced its CO2 output by 40 percent while its economy has grown by 50 percent. A large part of the reduction was due to the fact that 98 percent of the city uses district heating. When heat and electricity are produced simultaneously, energy is used almost twice as efficiently while cutting city inhabitants' heating bills.
The green economy employed 11,000 people in Copenhagen in 2009 and had revenues of 24 billion crowns, out of which 10.5 billion crowns was exports, according to the city. The city's economy grew 3 percent in 2010, more than double Denmark's 1.3 percent GDP growth that year.
Becoming carbon-neutral doesn't mean there will not be any CO2 emissions in Copenhagen in 2025. The city acknowledged that at least some private traffic will most likely continue to run on fossil fuels. It plans to compensate for that by being a net "exporter" of renewable energy to other areas in Denmark's energy system, where it would replace coal.
But because Denmark plans to be totally independent of fossil fuels by 2035, this calculation will no longer be valid at that time, so Copenhagen will have to continue efforts to reduce its CO2 output in the 10 years after 2025, city planners acknowledged.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500