Skip to main content
Move the World.

City populations are growing. Really growing. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas (up from 50% now). With the climate crisis worsening, how can we support this urban trend in a sustainable way? One city has some strategies that could be a model for our future.

”We want to become the first carbon neutral capital city by 2025”

Frank JensenLord Mayor of Copenhagen

Copenhagen is on a mission to be carbon neutral by 2025. In other words, they are shooting to cancel out all of their carbon emissions and at a very aggressive pace. Frank Jensen, Lord Mayer of the City, is leading the charge and has a vision to generate more renewable energy than the city uses, achieving a “net zero.” Here are a few areas the city is tackling to make the plan a reality.

Mobility

Biking is part of the Copenhagen DNA and is a major factor in realizing urban sustainability. The city is really leaning into that and has spent $300 million in recent years to improve biking infrastructure. Because it’s so easy to get around, there are 5 times more bikes than cars in the city, which has a big impact on emissions.

urban sustainability

In Copenhagen, biking is just a normal part of life. It's a major driver of urban sustainability.

Pollution

The sustainable urban development efforts don’t stop there--Copenhagen has totally transformed its waterways too. A few decades ago the harbors were filled with industrial waste and dead fish. Now people actually swim in the city water and use the waterways to get around.

urban sustainability

Would you swim in your city's waterway?

"When I moved to Copenhagen back in 1987, this harbor was so polluted. You wouldn’t dream to have a swim in it. But today we have a harbor bath where people can swim after school and after their jobs.”

Frank Jensen

Energy

While mobility and pollution are important pieces of the urban sustainability puzzle, 80% of the plan is tied to energy. The city uses one of the largest district heating systems in the world, which harnesses a network of pipes to capture leftover heat from electricity production and delivers that heat to homes across the city. 99% of homes in Copenhagen run on this system.

What’s the True Secret to This Smart City’s Urban Sustainability?

Although Copenhagen is leading the way on technical solutions to sustainability, experts and policy makers agree that the secret sauce is actually the people. Living sustainably and caring for the environment are baked into the DNA of this culture.

"The residents here actually want to help build a sustainable city and are willing to work for it."

Frank Jensen

People want to bike to work, treat garbage responsibly and make a difference. The attitude is the same across the city and allows for constant collaboration, innovation, and real progress. And that progress is very real. This sustainable city is well on its way to hitting it’s 2025 goal and stands as a model for the rest of us as we continue our uphill battle with climate change.

Up Next

Public Safety
Domestic Abuse is Surging Under Lockdown. Can We Stem the Tide?
domestic abuse during the coronavirus
Public Safety
Domestic Abuse is Surging Under Lockdown. Can We Stem the Tide?
Coronavirus lockdowns may be the impetus for rising occurrences of child and domestic abuse. Advocates find creative solutions.

Coronavirus lockdowns may be the impetus for rising occurrences of child and domestic abuse. Advocates find creative solutions.

Public Health
More Than $1 Million in Prizes For Coronavirus Solutions
coronavirus solutions
Public Health
More Than $1 Million in Prizes For Coronavirus Solutions
Emergent Ventures is awarding more than $1 million in coronavirus prizes to people who make significant progress in combating COVID-19.

Emergent Ventures is awarding more than $1 million in coronavirus prizes to people who make significant progress in combating COVID-19.

Technology & The Arts
High-Tech Art Exhibit Looks at Life Through the Eyes of AI
High-Tech Art Exhibit Looks at Life Through the Eyes of AI
Technology & The Arts
High-Tech Art Exhibit Looks at Life Through the Eyes of AI
In this Chicago museum, artists explore some of the most polarizing forms of imagery at the moment: surveillance and facial recognition.

In this Chicago museum, artists explore some of the most polarizing forms of imagery at the moment: surveillance and facial recognition.

Social Change
Welcome to Morgan’s Wonderland: A Truly Inclusive Amusement Park
Dad Builds Amusement Park for Daughter
Watch Now
Social Change
Welcome to Morgan’s Wonderland: A Truly Inclusive Amusement Park
This dad couldn’t find a theme park that worked for his daughter with special needs - so he built one.
Watch Now

Imagine seeing your child struggling or completely unable to enjoy normal recreational activities. Water parks, merry-go-rounds, theme parks - all childhood activities that unfortunately, many kids don’t not get to experience. Gordon Hartman couldn’t find an amusement park that would accommodate his daughter, a person with special needs. So he did one any father would do. Using the money from the sale of his successful insurance business, he created one. Hartman built a completely accessible amusement park for kids with special needs in San Antonio, Texas called Morgan’s Wonderland. And this massive, “ultra-accessible” amusement park has all of us wanting to buy tickets.

#fixingjustice - Harm Reduction
A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
#fixingjustice - Harm Reduction
A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
Freethink followed Andre T. Mitchell, the founder of Man Up!, and his violence interrupter team for a day in...
By Michelle Frankfurter

Freethink followed Andre T. Mitchell, the founder of Man Up!, and his violence interrupter team for a day in Brooklyn as they responded to a recent shooting in a nearby neighborhood.

Dispatches
Air Travel Could Be Stopping the Next Plague
Air Travel Could Be Stopping the Next Plague
Dispatches
Air Travel Could Be Stopping the Next Plague
Our hyper-connected world might be protecting us against devastating plagues.

Our hyper-connected world might be protecting us against devastating plagues.

CIVIL
Meet Civil, The Startup That Wants to Save Journalism with the Blockchain
Civil Blockchain
Watch Now
CIVIL
Meet Civil, The Startup That Wants to Save Journalism with the Blockchain
Can the blockchain fight fake news, restore trust in the media, and save a dying a industry?
Watch Now

The news industry is in crisis. Traditional ad models have not transitioned well to the digital world and many newspapers have closed their doors. Clickbait has risen as the pressure to get views at any price rises and quality suffers. People trust the media less and less, which has made it increasingly easy for special interests to manipulate public opinion. But Civil, a new startup, wants to help solve these problems by...