special feature
What difference?
This feature was funded by
Ramboll UK
Fact file : Carbon footprint
upper limit atmospheric CO2 thought safe
350 parts per million : www.350.org
current atmospheric CO2 levels
over 390ppm : NOAA figures : co2now.org
Danish average energy use
155GJ/year per person : www.kemin.dk
proportion of Danish energy consumption
private households 30+% : www.kemin.dk
A-rated fridges/freezers sold in Denmark
92% (2005) : online.wsj.com
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Low Carbon Initiatives
in Copenhagen
Part of our Low Carbon Copenhagen project ... project index >
Low carbon initiatives
Reducing the city's carbon footprint
Copenhagen plans to be carbon neutral by 2025 and for its citizens, taking steps to reduce the city's carbon footprint is an activity that is integrated with daily life. So far, between 1990 and 2005, the city reduced its CO2 emissions by 20%. At further 20% reduction at least is anticipated by 2015.
That 20% reduction by 2015 breaks down like this (see www.unep.org):
15% = reductions in the energy supply by using sustainable sources such as wind, biomass, solar and geothermal ... see low carbon power generation
2% = improvements in transport ... better public transport, increased cycle safety, congestion charges, green zones, parking restrictions, etc.
2% = energy management in public and private buildings, improved renovation techniques and low-energy building design
1% = further motivating and involving citizens
National initiatives
The 1973-4 world oil crisis was one of the catalysts for Danish investment in reducing the country's reliance on fossil fuel imports and reducing overall energy consumption. Another was economic recession. Temporary measures to save energy included banning driving on Sundays, turning off streetlights and lowering the heating temperature in schools and public buildings.
Even though the Danish economy has grown by 78% since 1980, energy consumption has hardly changed (www.kemin.dk). Ongoing measures, such as investment in low carbon power generation and district heating, have reduced its CO2 emissions by about one sixth since 1990. In a 2006 EU opinion poll, more Danes said they would be willing to pay higher prices for energy derived from clean sources than the citizens of any other country.
Recent national strategies include:
— New building codes that specify thicker insulation and better seals for windows (1979 onwards).
— Bringing the 2005 EU directive on greenhouse gas emissions into Danish law.
— The One Tonne Less campaign, encouraging citizens to reduce CO2 emissions by changing everyday habits (March 2007 - December 2009).
— The 2008 Energy Agreement, targeting at least 20% gross energy consumption in 2011 from renewable energy sources, and 30% in 2025.
— The decision that renewable energy generation should be generally carbon neutral and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall.
— A scheme that allows utilities not meeting government guidelines to buy energy credits from better-performing ones.
Denmark has developed a strategy for adapting to climate change (www.kemin.dk/klimatilpasningsstrategi_UK_web.pdf), and in 2007 it set up the Ministry of Climate & Energy to address climate and energy issues.
Between 1975 and 2001, Denmark achieved a 20% reduction in its heating bill, even though heated floor space increased by 30% in that time. Figures released in 2007 show that each citizen uses an average 6,600kWh of electricity per year, compared with 13,300kWh per person in the USA (http://online.wsj.com).
Copenhagen's initiatives
Copenhagen hopes to be the world's first Eco-Metropolis and already uses a significant proportion of low carbon power generation and has a city-wide district heating network. An integrated approach to transport has enabled a de-emphasis on car travel and a wide take-up of public systems and cycling. A large area of the central city has been pedestrianised.
According to EnergyMap, Copenhagen emits 2,590,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Building-related emissions account for more than 30% of this, and over 20% is connected with traffic. One of the city's aims is a 35% reduction in CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2010.
There have been a number of notable renovation and construction schemes. The first new project completed to sustainable building standards is Stenurten day care centre for children under 6 years (June 2002). It received environmental certification (EMAS and ISO 14001) in August 2004. Another is the renovation of the 1880s Hedebygade housing block (1998-2002). Here the installation of a heliostat (mirror) to maximise natural light, plus solar panels, has resulted in a 58% reduction in electricity consumption against the Danish average and around a third less CO2 emissions, again against the national average.
On 19th February 2009, Copenhagen became the 100th participant to join the United Nations Environment Programme's Climate Neutral Network, connecting low carbon economies, societies and companies globally.
In September 2009, the city held a 100% carbon neutral music and arts festival, CO2PENHAGEN, powered entirely by renewable energy. In December of that year, the Danish government hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP15, which was held in Copenhagen.
The continuing momentum of the benefits achieved so far should drive Copenhagenís low carbon aspirations well into the century. The city has committed to increasing the market share of sustainable and renewable energy sources for its heat and power.
In March 2006, Copenhagen received the European Environmental Management Award. In 2008 it was dubbed Energy City of Denmark as well as being voted the World's Most Liveable City by Monocle magazine. In December 2009, Copenhagen was named as Europe's greenest major city in a study of 30 EU cities released by Siemans to coincide with COP15.
The global picture
The beginning of the industrialization in Europe in around 1750, particularly in Britain, signalled the start of rapidly increasing CO2 emissions as a result of human endeavour. A dramatic illustration of the recent rise in CO2 emissions and where the concentrations are, can be seen in this time lapse video on YouTube.
Besides Copenhagen, various other cities and municipalities are aiming for carbon neutral status. In 2007, the City of Sydney declared itself the first carbon neutral local government in Australia. Also in Australia, Brisbane (the country's third largest city) has declared its aim to reach carbon neutrality by 2026. A number of cities have joined the Climate Neutral Network and set out their aims.
Several countries have pledged to reach carbon neutrality too. In mid 2010, the list included Cost Rica (aiming for 2021), Iceland, Maldives (by around 2020), New Zealand, Norway (by 2030), Tuvalu and Vatican City. Maldives is aiming to be the first country to reach the goal. Denmark is currently (2010) home to the largest carbon-neutral settlement in the world — the island of Samsø.
There are many individual initiatives around the world and the number is growing all the time. Individual companies, large and small, and individual construction projects, local authorities, towns and villages, and municipalities have plans and pledges in place — including many Danish or Denmark-connected organizations. The methods of achieving their aims range from energy efficiency measures and local renewable-energy power generation to carbon offset schemes and carbon taxes, depending on circumstances and location.
So far, however, there is no international certification for carbon neutrality, though some countries have developed national schemes.
Part of our Low Carbon Copenhagen project ... project index >
images  courtesy Rambøll
project team  Jane Joyce, Eleanor Knowles, Nick Simons, Clare Sims, Paul Weston
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Reducing our own carbon footprint
BIG THINGS WE CAN DO ...
Reduce airline travel
Take less luggage when flying ... if all passengers took less than 20kg it would save 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year
Use recycled paper ... could save 1.4 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of paper/cardboard
Switch to a green electricity supplier ... might save 520kg of CO2 per year
Switch off standby ... closing down computers and screens outside working hours could cut CO2 by a third
Install double-glazed windows ... could save up to 350kg of CO2 per year
Reducing heating temperatures ... just 1 deg C less can save 300kg of CO2 per year
Replace the fridge-freezer ... look for A+ rating and automatic defrost ... could save 210kg of CO2 per year
Use a bicycle more ... could save 240kg of CO2 per year over car travel for journeys totalling 1,200km
Replace that old car with one that uses 15% less fuel ... could save 660kg of CO2 per year
Driving sensibly ... drive at a steady speed, avoid sudden breaking/accelerating, change gear promptly, cut the engine when stationary ... could save 200kg of CO2 per year and reduce fuel consumption by 12%
Keep car tyres at correct pressures ... could save 140kg of CO2 per year
SMALLER THINGS WE CAN DO ...
(potential CO2 emissions savings in brackets)
YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJwt9nwCElA
— Only use the washing machine when full (45kg/year)
— Avoid using tumble driers (2.3kg/load)
— Install a low-flow shower head (1kg per 5 min shower)
— Boil only as much water as needed (about 25kg/year)
— Fix that dripping hot water tap (20kg/year)
— Buy large drink bottles not lots of small ones (9kg/year)
— Recycle aluminium (9kg per 1kg recycled)
— Take own bags to do the shopping (8kg/year)
— Avoid printing documents/email (7kg/year)
— Let hot food to cool before refrigerating (6kg/year)
— Jog rather than using a treadmill (1kg per 45 mins)
— Replace that old TV with eco-labelled one (80g/day)
— Use a non-electric toothbrush (almost 48g each time)
— Turn off tap while brushing teeth (4g each time)
— Switch off more (60W bulb off for one hour saves 37g)
— Use low energy light bulbs (one replaced 60W bulb saves 27g per hour and produces 4x less total greenhouse gas emissions)
— Take the train to work (1.7kg per 8km trip)
— Use low-viscosity motor oil in the car (45kg/year)
— Reduce driving speed from 110km to 90km per hour for 10% of the distance (35kg/year)
Greenhouse gases
Greenhouse gases absorb or emit thermal infrared radiation, and their presence in the Earth's atmosphere affects the temperature of the planet. Without them, we'd be very much colder. With too much of them, we'll overheat.
Although CO2 is the most talked about greenhouse gas, there are others. The main ones are water vapour, methane, ozone and nitrous oxide. Clouds increase the greenhouse effect too.
Water vapour affects global warming the most — as there is more of it in the atmosphere — perhaps three times more than CO2.
Although methane is far more effective (perhaps more than 20 times) at influencing global warming than CO2, there is less of it in the air so its net effect is less than that of CO2. A substantial proportion of methane emissions (estimated at 37% globally) is emitted by ruminant animals — mostly cows.
Ozone has a lesser net effect than methane.
see Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org