On September 28th the American-Danish Business Council together with Ramboll Environ hosted a breakfast discussion with Morten Kabell (Mayor for Technical and Environmental Affairs of the City of Copenhagen) and Tommy Wells (Director for the District Department of Energy and the Environment). Both men emphasized the cooperation and synergies between the two cities – similar in size, both capital cities, both with congestion problems, etc.
Tommy Wells led off saying how much he admired the Danish biking culture and the many bike paths that make biking safe and convenient. He is trying to push biking in the District and remarked that bike share is very popular.
Furthermore, a comprehensive energy plan is important to business. At the moment, the District obtains 35% of its energy for government buildings from a Pennsylvania wind farm. The other percentage of its supply is covered by Renewable Energy Credits. Discussions are taking place on micro grids and solar. However, the financing is problematic and requires creative solutions.
Mayor Kabell remarked on the cooperation between Copenhagen and Ramboll. He also focused on the importance of sharing knowledge and the extent Copenhagen has learned from other communities.
Copenhagen is facing the impact of climate change in ever increasing cloud bursts – both in severity and frequency. What was a 100 year event or a 500 year event must now be planned to occur every few years. Copenhagen’s water problem can be approached either by the Brown method (enlarging sewers by digging up the entire city at a cost of $3½ billion) or by the Green/Blue method at a price of $1½ billion. The Green/Blue method is preferable in terms of cost, disruption of the city and environmental quality. Like the Skt. Kjeld’s quarter, the city will be adapted to handle large quantiles of rain without severe flooding (see more on Skt. Kjeld’s here http://murmur.dk/articles/cloud-bursts-to-urban-renewal.183.html ).
Mr. Kabell returned to the bike issue by remarking that the first dedicated bike path in Copenhagen dates from 1912. One in Odense was opened, however, in the 1890s. Today about 45% of transportation in Copenhagen is done by bike, which should rise to 60% in the near future.
The Snake Bike Bridge just opened making it easier and faster to commute from one side of the harbor to the other (http://www.dac.dk/en/dac-life/copenhagen-x-gallery/cases/the-bicycle-snake/ ). The price of the project was $5 million but will markedly increase bike traffic.
In 2002 the water in the harbor was clean enough to allow swimming. Today the harbor is a favorite swimming and gathering place. Food is also healthier than ever before. School meals are now about 90% organic.
In 2014 a London School of Economics study revealed that Copenhagen has experienced 25% growth while reducing CO2 levels by 40 percent. Furthermore, transformation to a green economy meant that Copenhagen avoided recession unlike most of Europe and the US. In other words, Clean Tech spells jobs and economic growth.