2 sep 21

Mobility is the key of reaching carbon neutrality in European cities

Europe has committed itself to carbon neutrality after the Paris Agreement, which is accepted by many as “the last political resort” against climate change. Following the four years after the agreement, the EU has taken three additional steps to solidify its commitment to carbon neutrality. 

In December 2019, the European Commission presented The Green Deal, a new strategy to reach carbon neutrality through increasing the prosperity of the society with a more fair and modern approach. A year later, EU leaders reached an agreement to lower the CO2 levels by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. The new proposition was sent to the Council and the Parliament to be added to the European climate law. In July 2021, the Commission this time presented the “Fit for 55 package”, a proposition to update EU legislation to align it to 2030 and 2050 goals.  

The busy traffic of climate politics not only reflected the commitment of Europe to the zero-carbon goal but also motivated the European cities all over the continent. We can have a quick look at 9 cities to get a better view of their carbon neutrality plans.  


Under European objectives, the capital of the EU has set its primary objectives for 2030 as reducing greenhouse gases by at least 40% compared to 1990, increasing the usage of renewable energies to a minimum of 27% and improving the energy efficiency by at least 27%. Brussels extended its bike lanes 40 kilometres during the pandemic. Brussels Airport also has managed to lower its carbon emissions 34% by 2017 compared to 2010 and set its goal as 40% reduction by 2030 . 


Barcelona is determined to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2005, and the roadmap to this goal focuses on increasing prosperity while going green. Setting a zero-energy goal for 2030, Barcelona will renovate 94.000 homes and 20% of the residential building older than 40 years . Additionally, the city will build 34.000-metre square green roofs and place 100 solar panels on the roofs of municipal buildings. Main mobility plan of Barcelona is to acquire low-carbon buses, taxis and donate municipal fleets with low-carbon vehicles by 2025. 


Currently producing 5.000 kiloton CO2 equivalents annually, Amsterdam's climate policy aims to reduce carbon emission 55% by 2030 and 95% by 2050. To become 100% sustainable in energy, Amsterdam aims to generate 127 MW in 2030 from the current 66 MW, equal to providing electricity to more than 150.000 houses. By 2030, all traffic in Amsterdam is expected to be carbon-free and the city will stop using natural gas by 2040. Making the houses, offices and public buildings energy efficient will rely on building a city-wide heating infrastructure. Amsterdam will remove all polluting vehicles from traffic, which is currently producing 18% of CO2 in the city. Amsterdam expects to cut annual CO2 emissions by 3200 kilotons, 55% of the current amount . 


One of the leading cities in carbon reduction, Copenhagen managed to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases by 42% from 2005 to 2017, to 1.37 million tonnes. Copenhagen is a good example of mobility and heat infrastructure, as 49% of all trips are made by bike and and 98% of the heat is generated by waste heat produced in electricity generation . Copenhagen will reduce heat consumption 20%, electricity consumption of companies by 20% and electricity consumption of households by %10 by 2025, compared to 2025. Under the theme of Green Mobility, Copenhagen plans 75% of all journeys to be done by foot, bike and public transport in 2025, increasing public transport usage  20%. 
In 2025, Copenhagen aims to reach 100% carbon neutral heat target by totally eliminating coal in energy production . 


Under its "master plan" Oslo wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36% by 2020 and 95% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Oslo achieved 100% renewable energy target in public transportation in 2020 through hydrogene . As 61% of the emission in Oslo is produced by traffic, the city aims to reduce car traffic by 33% by 2030 . 


Milan will invest in urban restructuring as well as new mobility trends to lower greenhouse gas emissions and plans to reallocate 100km of street space for cycling and walking by the end of 2021. Aiming to be zero-carbon by 2050, buildings in Milan will use 100% renewable energy including 100% reused water, and will also adopt green roofs. The mobility strategy of Milan will focus on increasing bike usage and areas while limiting car parking spaces as 100 per 700 people. As well as planning to have a 1,200 m2 bike garage and 10 EV charging stations. Additionally, there will be a shared car fleet system in neighbourhoods. 


The capital of Portugal will multiply its production of solar energy by 50 by 2030. Like many cities, Lisbon will focus on mobility and aims to increase electric vehicles in public transport by adding 420 e-buses and 25 trams in 2023. Lisbon already added 12.000 scooters as a micro-mobility solution to further convince 150.000 motorists to switch to new mobility solutions . One big achievement for Lisbon was surpassing the 40% CO2 reduction target of 2030 just in 2016. Lisbon now aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality in 2050. 


Emissions decreased 49% in Stockholm as of 2019, compared to 1990 . Stockholm expects to reach 100% renewable energy mainly through hydro, wind and nuclear energy. In 2050, the city aims to be totally fossil-free . Under the current urban mobility strategy, Stockholm is developing plans for cycling, pedestrians, freight, parking, transit network and road safety. The aim is to make public spaces for everyone while protecting the environment and increasing mobility. 40.000 trees on streets are the symbol of the green element of public spaces in the city . 


Paris has started implementing climate goals in three phases. As of 2020 Paris manages to reduce greenhouse emissions and energy usage by 25% compared to 2004 and increased renewable energy levels to 25%. The second phase will be to decrease greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030 and increase renewable energies up to 45%. The last step is defined as reaching 100% renewable energy by 2050 . 

Author: Müfit Yılmaz Gökmen

Image: Shutterstock