Quantcast

Can Copenhagen Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2025?

Energy
Wind turbines off the coast of Copenhagen. Holger Leue / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Copenhagen has set itself the ambitious goal of going carbon neutral — generating more renewable energy than it consumes from fossil fuels — by 2025. If it succeeds, it will be the first capital in the world to do so, according to the city's website.


"We will achieve these goals through a transition of our energy supply, building retrofits, waste management, public infrastructure and mobility, as well as other key initiatives to support the transition on both a short-term and long-term basis," the website declares.

Its efforts could serve as a blueprint for other cities looking to take climate action, The New York Times wrote in an in-depth profile Monday. But it also faces obstacles, including a rural-urban divide on the problem of reducing car use.

"It's a political challenge. It's not a technological challenge," Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen told The New York Times.

Specifically, the Denmark's center-right national government has refused to restrict diesel vehicles in the city. Copenhagen has already reduced emissions by 42 percent compared to 2005 levels, but this has mostly been by phasing out the use of fossil fuels for heat and electricity. Emissions from transportation, on the other hand, account for a third of the city's footprint.

CleanTechnica illustrated the conundrum faced by the Danish capital:

Mayor Frank Jensen tells the New York Times that cities "can change the way we behave, the way we are living, and go more green." He says mayors, more than national politicians, feel the pressure to take action. "We are directly responsible for our cities and our citizens, and they expect us to act."

In a jarring example of theory versus reality, the two halves of that quote on the NY Times website are interrupted by an ad for the GMC Next Generation Sierra Denali. In Denmark, rural drivers are still wedded to their diesel-powered cars. The Danish government recently slashed registration taxes on new cars, a move that has had the effect of making electric cars more expensive.

However, there are many actions that Copenhagen has been able to take on its own, according to The New York Times.

1. It is scheduled to open a new Metro line this year that will place every resident within a little less than half a mile of a station.

2. It has made three-lane-wide bicycle lanes on busy city roads.

3 .It has invested in wind turbines and plans to sell renewable energy units for every fossil fuel unit it burns.

4. It uses a new trash incinerator to help heat buildings.

Despite these innovations, independent analysts say the city is unlikely to reach its 2025 goal. Some also argue that the city's strategy focuses too much on offseting carbon use rather than transforming its residents' lifestyles.

"We run around in fossil fuel burning cars, we eat a lot of meat, we buy a hell of a lot of clothes," Fanny Broholm, a spokeswoman for left-leaning green party Alternativet, told The New York Times. "The goal is not ambitious enough as it is, and we can't even reach this goal."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less
Electric towers during golden hour. Pixabay / Pexels

An international group of scientists released a report today detailing how the fossil fuel industry actively campaigned to sow doubt about the climate crisis and what steps need to be taken to undo the damage, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less