Commentary: Copenhagen has abandoned its 2025 net zero target. This casts doubt on other major climate plans

COPENHAGEN: The city of Copenhagen, often celebrated as one of the world’s greenest for its cycling culture and other initiatives, recently defaulted on its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2025.

This early failure in the global race to net zero emissions (a balance between CO2 emitted and absorbed) may foreshadow backtracking by other target-setters, indicating that pledges to cease contributing to climate change demand greater scrutiny.

Since 2012, when Copenhagen launched its plan to become the first carbon neutral city in the world by 2025, the city has enjoyed international recognition and a significant branding boost. It expects to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by, for instance, switching its power and district heating systems to biomass, wind and solar, renovating buildings to make them energy efficient and improving public transport.

The remaining emissions were supposed to be mopped up by installing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at the local waste-to-energy plant. This would remove CO2 from the smokestack before it is emitted to the atmosphere, isolating it for later underground storage.

But at the beginning of August, the semi-public utility Amager Resource Centre (ARC) that manages the plant announced it was ineligible for national CCS funding. This funding, it argued, would otherwise have enabled them to capture CO2 generated by burning the city’s waste. And so, Copenhagen has given up on its pledge.

Cities such as Glasgow and Helsinki, countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom, and companies including IKEA and Apple have made similar pledges to be net zero by 2030, 2045 or 2050. This gives the impression that sufficient measures to address climate change are in the pipeline.