Climate neutral within seven years: Lessons from Sønderborg

(EurActiv, 21 Jun 2022) Sønderborg, a small Danish town lying just beyond the border with Germany, is a living example of a possible future for decarbonised towns – and a blueprint for study by policymakers the world over.

In April 2022, 100 European cities signed up to a pledge to be climate neutral by 2030, far ahead of the EU-wide decarbonisation targets. The Danish municipality of Sønderborg – a sleepy town with 70,000 inhabitants – is one of them.

Faith Birol, chief of the International Energy Agency (IEA), described Sønderborg as the “capital of energy efficiency,” during the global energy efficiency conference held in the town at the beginning of June.

Previous iterations of the conference were held in Paris and Dublin – so why was Sønderborg, a small town even by Danish terms, chosen to host an international conference featuring government delegations from across the globe?

For one, it is home to the Danish multinational Danfoss, a family company dealing in cooling, heating and other efficient technical solutions, which acts as the local hegemon. Moreover, however, the town’s public-private partnership “ProjectZero” provides a blueprint for climate-neutral towns for visitors to engage with and experience.

Policymakers from all over Europe make the trip. “We host a lot of different groups coming through here to see ProjectZero,” Kim Fausing, CEO of Danfoss, told EURACTIV.

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EurActiv, 21 Jun 2022: Climate neutral within seven years: Lessons from Sønderborg