Green Capital Getting Greener

Hannah Armstrong

Sitting in a room in Stockholm’s City Hall, natural light pours through the tall windows.  Outside, it seems like more bikes and people than cars are on the streets.

The increasing popularity of bicycles and public transportation is no accident.  Emission-free transportation is the future here, and nearly one out of every four cars have already been removed from the city’s roads.

This is the Stockholm of today, Europe’s first Green Capital.  With a population of 850,000 people, and expecting to increase by 200,000 in the next 20 years, Stockholm  has set high environmental standards toward the goal of creating a cleaner city.  A continuous improvement of air and water quality, energy use and emission decrease, has become the city’s primary goal.

Since its dirtiest point in 1910, when buildings were covered in soot, Stockholm has experienced significant population  growth that goes hand-in-hand with a growing economy.  Fortunately, the denser the  city becomes, the greener the city is becoming.  Even during peak hours, far fewer cars are present because alternative transportation methods are being created and used.

With a goal of reducing emissions from gasoline, Stockholm created a carbon dioxide emissions tax that was implemented in 1991.  The tax  has already lowered emissions by up to 14 percent, said Gunnar Soderholm, Stockhom’s director of the Environment and Health Administration. By switching to sources like biogas, a fuel formed from organic matter, and ethanol, Sweden hopes to completely eliminate fossil fuels by the year 2050.

In addition to using biogas and ethanol, environmentalists are taking advantage of other sources or natural energy.  Wind, water and nuclear power are forming the foundation of the future.  Right now, 40 percent of Sweden’s energy comes from  water, 40 percent comes from nuclear power and 20 percent from biofuels. Cars and trucks, however, mostly use gasoline and other fossil fuels.

Environmental administrators have also proposed target emission levels to track air quality.  Companies must choose the most cost-effective climate strategies to remain climate-neutral.

Solderholm said many companies are coming on board.  “They are more ready for new demands on lowering carbon emission,” he said. For Swedes, this increase in air quality may even have health benefits, by eliminating respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. #



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