Sunday, 22 December 2013

Copenhagen - European Green Capital 2014: Myth and Reality

Copenhagen has now officially been crowned European Green Capital for 2014 by the European Commission.
Frank Jensen, the city's social democratic mayor was celebrating the "win" in Brussels the other day:

“It’s a major pat on the back for all Copenhageners and the city’s green businesses who everyday do what they can to make Copenhagen a more green and sustainable city,” Jensen said in a press release.

Among the initiatives that swayed the independent jury in Copenhagen’s favour are the city’s efforts to increase the number of cyclists, become carbon neutral in 2025, and ensure Copenhageners better access to nature areas.

EU environment commissioner Janez Potočnik congratulated Copenhagen on the award.
“The rest of Europe could learn a lot from Copenhagen’s climate efforts and the high quality of life that Copenhageners lead. This prize reflects the fact that Copenhagen is making significant efforts to develop its urban space in order to deliver a more healthy and sustainable city for Copenhageners,” Potočnik said.

It is a well known fact, that Danes are very good in marketing (also themselves). They have obviously done a great marketing and promotion job with the EU Commission, as they were able to beat eleven who were also competing for the title.

But as somebody who has lived in Copenhagen a few years ago (and enjoyed it), I would agree with British journalist Richard Steed, who has lived in Copenhagen since 1998:

We love to create myth! And so too, it seems, does the European Commission, which has named
Copenhagen the European Green Capital of 2014. I am sorry, but if you think Copenhagen is one of the most litter-free and greenest cities in the world, I would recommend you visit Valbyparken. Head towards Kalveboderne and discover for yourselves the amount of rubbish by the side of the shore. It is simply embarrassing.  I feel sorry for the poor local swans who are probably some of the most toxic birds in Europe right now. Or does this simply not matter because it’s outside the city centre, and out of sight from the tourists? --

 I bet the European officials who voted for this didn’t consider that in 2014 this city would more resemble one big dirty building site than a harmonious, green and pleasant place to be.
Obviously Copenhagen didn’t award this accolade itself, but the council did nominate itself and produce a glossy multimedia brochure to showcase the city. Yet in my view, the city should be embarrassed by winning this award, and looking at the council’s meagre budget, I can only assume it’s not their top priority. Right now all they are doing is recycling the same old ‘green stories’ that we’ve all heard over and over.

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