In Stockholm they are passionate about the environment. There is a long tradition of ambitious environmental efforts there: tackling air pollution, traffic emissions, greenhouse gases. Since 1990 carbon emissions have fallen by 25% per inhabitant and the city aims to become fossil fuel-free by 2050.
Gunnar Soderholm, from the city’s Environment and Health Administration told us: “Today 80% of all our apartments are connected to the district heating system and 83% of the energy production in the district heating is done by fossil-free fuels. The goal is to be down to 3 tonnes of Co2 emissions in 2015. We are right now at 3.4 tonnes, which is quite good in a European perspective and globally very good if compared to the US.”
The provision of more than 750 kms of bike lanes has resulted in doubling the numbers of cyclists over the past 10 years. A congestion tax has decreased traffic in and out the city centre by 20% in four years. Rail traffic uses renewable electricity from wind and water power.
Gunnar Soderholm commented: “50% of all trips on public transport are made by the underground. Buses are 50% run on fossil-free fuels. When commuting in and out the city centre about 79% of people last year were using public transport”.
The eco-cycle concept is at the very heart of the Hammarby Sjöstad area, otherwise known as Stockholm’s eco-district. Planned in the mid 90s, it re-uses waste, water and sewage to help supply residents’ energy needs.
Malenka Karlsson, from Glashusett said: “The thing with Hammarby Sjöstad is that it is not self-sufficient in any way, but it set a goal that 50% of energy that people use here should come from themselves. Such as from the waste water. We take treated waste water and that is actually heating up the houses.”
Homes feature good insulation and toilets and showers which use less water, meaning that residents don’t have to make a big effort in order to live in a more eco-friendly way.
As much rubbish as possible is separated and re-cycled to produce power. It is collected via vacuum-operated tubes which collect 5 tonnes of rubbish a day. Residents put their rubbish into the waste inlets just outside their homes:
Carl Johan Mawe, and Envac engineer, explained: “The waste is sucked in a pipenet underground to a collection station that is about two kilometres away from this point. Newspapers are recycled, food waste becomes fertilizers or bio-gas in the end, and incinerable waste comes back as energy, district heating for example.”
So with all this, it’s no wonder that the European Commission has made Stockholm the first-ever “European Green Capital”.