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Image: Time Out / Ingus Kruklitis /

Which city is going to be carbon-neutral first?

The race to ‘net zero’ is on, with cities in Denmark, Finland and Spain currently in the lead

Sophie Dickinson
Written by
Sophie Dickinson

As the fight against climate change intensifies, many cities around the world are competing to become carbon-neutral first. (That is, they’re aiming to produce no more carbon emissions than the amount they’ll remove from the atmosphere.) This makes sense: while the world’s metropolises cover only around two percent of the earth, they’re responsible for around two thirds of energy consumption.

So, which city looks likely to reach the target first?

Top of the pops is Copenhagen, which already has serious sustainability credentials. The city is on track to become carbon-neutral by 2025. To reach the goal, around 75 percent of all journeys will have to be by bike, foot or public transport, while 100 percent of its heating must come from renewable sources. The jewel in the crown is CopenHill: an urban mountain sports centre atop a waste-to-energy plant that supplies tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

It’s not guaranteed that Copenhagen will be the first to reach the target, though. Valencia in Spain aims to be carbon-neutral by the same year, and so too does Lahti in Finland (they even have the world’s first carbon-neutral symphony orchestra).

Nottingham in the UK isn’t far behind, either. The city has unveiled plans to become the country’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028, but estimates put it two years ahead of that goal – meaning they could also be a serious contender.

All in all, more than 700 cities have pledged to reach the goal by 2050. And while the winner should be declared in the next few years, we very much hope they’ll all beat their own targets. A healthy dose of competition will no doubt help.

Now find out how Copenhagen became Europe’s greenest city.

Plus: here’s how Barcelona’s ‘superblock’ plan is carving out a post-car future.

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