The city listened, and allocated more bicycle lanes, which can actually accommodate up to ten times more travellers. Now, there is less of a need for car parks in the bustling city centre, and children can cycle to school instead of having their parents take them, Kabell explains.

“We need citizen engagement and more,” Kabell believes, adding that “we simply need to have people at every single level” of the planning and decisionmaking process. As an example, Copenhageners had a major say in the way a city square was designed. They chose the type of greenery they actually wanted, and made changes to the layout. Now, the square is buzzing with activity even on grey days, he says.

Cutting cars

Copenhagen has eight years to go before its 2025 deadline. While electric buses and new metro lines are costly projects, they will help to make the city car-lite, while more trees do their part to filter carbon out of the air. Up to 40,000 new trees have been planted in the city so far, with a target of 100,00 over the next few years, says Kabell.

It also means switching over to sustainable biomass as an energy source, and retrofitting power plants to be able to use wind and solar energy, he continues.

Ultimately, the key in all this is to make sure that Copenhageners have a say in how their home looks like, and impacts the environment. “Citizens have to live with it. Let’s make sure that they enjoy it.”

Interview with Morten Kabell, mayor for environmental and technical affairs, Copenhagen

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