This Is What The World’s Greenest City Looks Like

Published March 25, 2015
Updated March 9, 2015

A place that embraces efficient public transportation, accessible green space and harnesses the power of nature isn’t a utopian fantasy; it’s the capital of Denmark. Recently, the Global Green Economy Index gave Copenhagen the title of “greenest city in the world” with a perfect score of 100 in terms of perception and performance. In the assessment, Global Green Economy authorities wrote that “Denmark relentlessly communicates its commitment to green growth through a variety of strategies and tactics.”

Copenhagen leads the world in green urban planning and design, pioneering transportation initiatives, and clean technology. While many in the rest of the world are burning tires and wasting water, the city acts a role model of environmental advancement and responsibility.

Greenest City Rosenbarg
Denmark’s capital city is known for its vast green spaces. Citizens have access to green areas, like these at the Rosenborg gardens, where they can be active and enjoy nature. Source: Nomadic Pursuits

Greenest City Roof Garden
Roof gardens are popular in the city and provide migration stations for pollinating birds and insects. They also improve air quality, slow rainfall runoff and reduce the risks of flooding. Source: PRI

Greenest City Urban Farming
Urban farming is popular among Copenhagen’s people. Being able to grow your own food cuts down on the need for high-carbon cost imported goods, and supports the city’s ambitious push towards sustainability. Source: Wordpress

Green Wall
The city aims to be carbon neutral by 2025. City leaders are ploughing towards this goal by switching from coal to biomass power plants, supporting green areas, and implementing smarter heating and cooling technology. Source: National Geographic

Greenest City Tivoli Gardens
The city aims to be carbon neutral by 2025. City leaders are ploughing towards this goal by switching from coal to biomass power plants, supporting green areas, and implementing smarter heating and cooling technology. Source: On Board

Greenest City Little Mermaid
Copenhagen is one of the few capitals in the world in which you can drink quality water from the tap. Through simple water cleaning and efficient water management, the city ensures its citizens a safe supply of water. Source: Nomadic Pursuits

Greenest City Copenhagen Canal
: City officials have implemented leak detection technology throughout Copenhagen, which brings pipeline water loss down to a minimal 8%. Some cities lose up to 50% of their water supply due to faulty plumbing. Source: Wordpress

Greenest City Copenhagen Bike Parking
No doubt, Copenhagen is a city for bicycling. Bicycle transport reduces air pollution, accidents and traffic congestion, though admittedly bicycle congestion does exist. Nevertheless, Copenhagen consistently addresses these issues and has improved bike parking and access to meet the needs of its people. Source: Wordpress

Greenest City Cycle Snake Above
Designers developed the elevated cycle snake to provide bicyclists access between the highway and the harbor bridge without interfering with pedestrians or taking the bicyclists down heavily trafficked roadways. Source: Fastco Exist

Greenest City Cycle Snake
Copenhagen’s efficient transportation plan centers on transport integration. Separate lanes keep bicyclists away from cars and buses, and one ticket can be used to ride the metro, train or bus. Source: Fastco Exist

Greenest City Subway Night
Technology has also improved the way public transportation riders get access. Tickets for the train, metro or bus can be purchased via text message, so there’s no standing around trying to get that ticket machine to work. Source:

Greenest City Kastrup Sea
Fifteen years ago, Copenhagen’s surrounding waters were little more than wastewater overflow. Today, they’re the place to be during the summer. What incited such a shift? The city closed harbour overflow channels, and has installed a new sewage system which stores wastewater until it can be treated. Source: Wordpress

Greenest City Turbines
Copenhagen boasts the world’s highest rate of wind-produced electricity. Wind turbines generate 22 percent of the city’s power, and by 2020 officials hope to see it reach 50 percent. The Middelgrunden wind farm annually eliminates 232 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emissions and 68,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Source: DAC

Greenest City Opera House
The city also benefits from open-minded residents who are willing to face the coming challenges with proper planning and investment. When the wind turbines were first installed, people were concerned about noise and appearance. After seeing the benefits of such technology, 91% of the people support the installation of more wind turbines. Source: Wikipedia

Copenhagen Alleyway
Danes are OK with higher tax rates than comparable nations, which helps explain the progress the nation is making regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation. Copenhagen’s approach may not be right for every global city, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Denmark is consistently the happiest country on Earth. Source: Wordpress

If you can't get enough of the Danish capital city, be sure to check out The New York Times' "36 Hours in Copenhagen" short below:

Susan Sims
When she's not fighting crime or cleaning the garbage disposal, you can find Susan writing about travel, science and things that go bump in the night.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Sims, Susan. "This Is What The World’s Greenest City Looks Like.", March 25, 2015, Accessed May 24, 2024.