Clashing Nordic Capitals Up CO2 Ante


Denmark and Sweden have warred through the ages, and for nearly as long Stockholm and Copenhagen have tried to claim the title of Scandinavia’s leading city. Stockholm is bigger, but Copenhagen claims it is more cosmopolitan and a junction for the Nordic region.

Stockholm’s taken the goal of becoming CO2-neutral by 2050, and introduced a road congestion tax and tax breaks for eco-friendlier cars to help reduce transport emissions.

Thus Copenhagen just upped the ante, saying it will introduce measures to reduce CO2 emissions before the 2009 UN Climate Conference (to be held in Copenhagen), and is aiming for CO2 neutrality more than two decades earlier, by 2025.

But as in Stockholm’s case, it is transport that is the toughest to turn CO2-free. Proposals by Copenhagen City Council member Claus Bondam are supposed to up renewable energy use (although plenty of wind turbines can already be seen spinning in the city harbor), reduce cars in the city center (pretty bike-amenable now) and green up district heating systems by tapping into a warm water reservoir 2.5 kilometers beneath the city.

Perhaps instead of fighting the Swedes, Bondam should join them, and speak to those Swedish researchers building know-how on converting waste heat to usable heating, chilling power, and electricity.

In any case, big cities tend to generate a lot of traffic that is not easy to totally abolish. In Denmark it is only the tiny island community of Samsø (4,200) that currently qualifies as climate-neutral, as wind turbines generate more than enough CO2-free energy for all the inhabitants.

In Sweden, it is Växjö (pronounced Vek-shu) making some of the biggest strides in cutting carbon. This southern city of 35,000 dropped emissions 30% (since 1993) by converting district heating to biomass and encouraging cycling by creating rings of bike paths centrally and round the city limits. Växjö got the 2007 Sustainable Energy Europe award. ::CopenhagenPost

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