Honoured as 2011 European Green Capital by the European Commission, Hamburg, Germany is seizing the opportunity to accelerate its growth as a city of the future. Educational programmes that reach across the community and across the Continent , ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets, aggressive leadership in the management and servicing of renewable energies, and major sustainable urban development projects are the hallmark activities of the city’s Green Capital year.
The Train of Ideas, a mobile international, interactive exhibition highlighting best practices in urban sustainability, launches in Hamburg just prior to Earth Day on April 15th and will be on display in 17 European cities before returning home in late September. Hamburg Green Capital’s reach will expand to the US later this year with events planned for Washington, DC, and New York.
Four out of five Europeans live in urban areas today and these urban areas account for 75% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions. Despite facing enormous challenges, cities are in the forefront of developing solutions to the ecological issues of future.
In 2009 the European Commission recognised the vital role of cities in providing the blueprint towards sustainability by creating the designation of ‘European Green Capital’ for cities that have achieved high environmental standards, set ambitious goals for improvement, and are role models for other cities. The first European Green Capital title was awarded in 2010 to Stockholm. In fact, Hamburg received a higher score than any of the 34 European cities competing for the title, but, as Germany was already hosting a European Cultural Capital in 2010, the Green Capital award went first to Stockholm.
The Train of Ideas enables the Green Capital of Hamburg to become mobile. The international, interactive exhibition shines a spotlight on how cities can be made both liveable and sustainable in the future. Six ‘containers’ or train cars will display more than 100 best-practice projects from European cities in more than 70 exhibits and on 26 touchscreens.
Metropolitan Hamburg has a total population of 4.3 million people. It has more than 500 industrial plants and, right in the heart of the city, is home to Europe’s third-largest port. The city boasts high environmental standards including a 15% reduction in carbon emissions since 1990, despite the city’s continued growth; an excellent public transportation system that is accessible within 1000 feet to 99% of the population; high quality drinking water combined with low per capita consumption and minimal leakage; highly efficient waste water treatment; and nature conservation that maintains 16.7% of the city’s total area as woodlands, recreational areas and green spaces.
The city has adopted a series of ambitious development goals such as increasing the number of citizens using bicycles as their main form of transport to 18% (over 12% in 2008) and increasing public bike stations around the city; a solid climate action strategy to cut carbon emissions by 40% over 1990 levels by 2020; and a strategy for high-quality internal growth.
Innovative development visions are being put into practice throughout the city, with a number of model projects well under way. They include carbon neutral residential quarters, zero-energy and passive houses, a low-carbon heat supply for the HafenCity Hamburg, Europe’s largest inner-city development, as well as the ‘Energy-Bunker’ – a former flak bunker being converted into a renewable energy-power-plant. Many of these projects are part of the International Building Exhibition 2013 (IBA) and predominantly implemented on city-owned land.
Hamburg is already Germany’s number one wind power development and management centre. By the end of the Green Capital year, more than 10 megawatts of Hamburg’s electricity will be produced by solar power and local universities provide a wealth of internationally-regarded data and research in the field of renewable energy. The vision is to position the Hamburg metropolitan region as the leading site worldwide for management and innovative services in the field of renewable energy.