Copenhagen - Becoming the first carbon-neutral city

Assessment of the territories’ climate action


Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)

Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all non-state actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies and actions undertaken by local actors. In order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes an assessment of « territorial mobilisations » through selected examples of cities and regions. Here, Copenhagen.

The impressive decrease of about 38% in GHG emissions between 2005 and 2015 is mainly due to the development of biomass in cogeneration systems and the integration of wind energy in the electricity mix. In 2012, the municipal council adopted its climate plan, the CPH Climate Plan 2025. This plan, which aims to make Copenhagen the first carbon-neutral capital, is one of the most ambitious. It is articulated in 3 phases (2013-16, 2017-20, 2020-25) and gives rise, at the end of each phase, to an evaluation and redefinition of priorities for the following period. Four main themes share the reduction effort by 2025, as follows: energy consumption (7%), energy production (80%), mobility and heritage (8%) and municipal competencies (5%). For each of the categories, more precise targets and orientations are defined. The idea of the latter is to put the administration at the forefront of favourable initiatives.


Copenhagen’s combined heat and power system was initiated in the mid-1920s and developed in the 1980s. It now supplies 98% of the city’s homes with heat from energy production and waste incineration, but remains the main cause of Copenhagen’s emissions. Faced with dependence on fossil fuel prices (coal, oil and more recently natural gas), and air pollution problems, the city is developing the use of renewable energies in the co-production of electricity and district heating. The implementation of phase 1 of its Climate Plan 2013-16 has led to the conversion of cogeneration plants, especially the Avedøreværket combined heat and power plant in the south of the city, 50% of which will be converted to biomass by the end of 2016. As a result, half of the district heating produced for Greater Copenhagen is now derived from carbon-neutral fuels and will be entirely carbon-neutral by 2020. The transition from coal to biomass is expected to contribute more than 40% of the emission reduction target of 750,000 tCO2 for energy and heating production by 2025.


Transport is the second largest source of emissions in Copenhagen, with 68% from cars and 25% from trucks and vans. In order to reduce them sustainably, the municipality has decided to strengthen its policy to promote soft and green mobility. Since 2010, emissions from transport have been reduced by 9%, with a 12% increase in the modal share of cycling. In 2018, 41% of the incompressible journeys - work and studies - made by the inhabitants of Copenhagen will be made by bicycle, with a target of 50% in 2025. In November 2016 there were more bicycles than cars in the Danish capital, 265,700 compared to 252,600 in November 2016. This modal shift towards cycling is the result of the «  Bicycle highways  » plan launched in 2012, which has led to the construction of 350 km of raised cycle paths. In 2017, five new motorways will be inaugurated. The plans for the construction of the new paths, which today represent 7% of the capital’s entire road network, were designed to allow access to the city centre from the outlying areas, which are the main routes taken by car. In the second phase 2017-2020 of its Climate Plan, Copenhagen intends to become the «  best city in the world for cyclists  » by continuing to expand its network, building new car parks and further facilitating integration with its public transport system.


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