Green growth and ‘hedonistic sustainability’ have helped keep the public on board as the Danish capital seeks to reach its goal by 2025 – and so far it’s all going according to plan
Derek Robertson in Copenhagen
Last modified on Thu 17 Oct 2019 13.19 BST
“We call it hedonistic sustainability,” says Jacob Simonsen of the decision to put an artificial ski slope on the roof of the £485m Amager Resource Centre (Arc), Copenhagen’s cutting-edge new waste-to-energy power plant. “It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good for life.”
Skiing is just one of the activities that Simonsen, Arc’s chief executive, and Bjarke Ingels, its lead architect, hope will enhance the latest jewel in Copenhagen’s sustainability crown. The incinerator building also incorporates hiking and running trails, a street fitness gym and the world’s highest outdoor climbing wall, an 85-metre “natural mountain” complete with overhangs that rises the full height of the main structure.
It’s all part of Copenhagen’s plan to be net carbon-neutral by 2025. Even now, after a summer that saw wildfires ravage the Arctic Circle and ice sheets in Greenland suffer near-record levels of melt, the goal seems ambitious. In 2009, when the project was formulated, it was positively revolutionary.
“A green, smart, carbon-neutral city,” declared the cover of the climate action plan, before detailing the scale of the challenge: 100 new wind turbines; a 20% reduction in both heat and commercial electricity consumption; 75% of all journeys to be by bike, on foot, or by public transport; the biogas-ification of all organic waste; 60,000 sq metres of new solar panels; and 100% of the city’s heating requirements to be met by renewables.