Friday, February 26, 2010

Stockholm on track for emission goals

STOCKHOLM. Tonight residents on the streets of the Swedish capital can tune into a giant slide show aimed at making them even more climate smart.
On the walls of a downtown high rise (right), a slide show on a 72 meter high screen will show examples of how we can make our every day life more environmentally friendly.
The project, called “Green Projection”, is inspired by similar projects in New York and other cities. It will run through March 4 to mark Stockholm status as European Green Capital 2010.
“We must all help to reduce our impact on the environment and Green Projections is an effective and nice way to spread information about it. It will take hard and determined work to reach our goal of a Stockholm free of fossil fuels by 2050”, says Ulla Hamilton, Vice Mayor for environment and traffic.
Hamilton, set to present the slide show tonight, delivered some good news earlier this week when she announced that Stockholm is ahead of schedule for reaching its goal of 3.0 tons of CO2-emissions per capita by 2015.
City authorities estimate emissions for 2009 at 3.4 tons per capita and expect the figure to be 2.8 tons per capita by 2015.
That would mean a reduction of 44 percent since 1990. The population of Stockholm is expected to have grown by 22 percent during the same period.
“The climate goal of a 20 percent reduction of CO2-emissions from 1990 to 2020 that the countries of the world were expected to agree on at COP 15 in Copenhagen before Christmas is something we have already done in Stockholm. Therefore we will now set up new interim targets along the way towards a fossil fuel free Stockholm by 2050”, says Vice Mayor Hamilton.
The figures are part of a report to the Covenant of Mayors, a joint effort of more than a hundred European cities to reduce emission at a quicker pace than what the EU demands.
“To live in a big city is not only pleasant, it is also the way of life that is best for the environment and climate. It’s all about thinking renewable when it comes to everything from waste management to public transportation”, says Hamilton.
Examples of measures that helped Stockholm reduce emissions are a very high level (80 percent) of renewable fuels in the district heating system that heats most houses, a bus fleet for the inner-city that runs on renewable fuels and congestion charges that have reduced traffic in the city center.
“We hope to have phased out all use of coal in the district heating system by 2020”, says Hamilton at a meeting (left) with an environmental group that I attended in Stockholm last night.
For two hours Hamilton discussed environmental issues and took questions from an audience of mostly members of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, a leading non-profit environmental group.
The evening was an interesting example of how quickly the debate on the environment is moving towards urban issues like city planning, public transportation, increased density and low energy housing.
A couple of days ago city authorities invited residents to contribute to the environmental work by e-mailing their ideas to a new "climate mailbox".
“Imagine if we could have an inner-city just for electrical vehicles by 2030. That would be a revolutionary change”, says Hamilton when asked present some of her visions for the future.
Ulla Hamilton represents the ruling liberal-conservative coalition that runs Stockholm City Hall. Sweden will have national and municipal elections in September this year, but in Stockholm there is a general consensus across party lines when it comes to the city’s ambitions to be a green leader.