Stockholm climate plan

Posted on 18 September 2014

Roadmap to fossil freedom

Roadmap to fossil freedom

Stockholm, the 2014 National Earth Hour Capital of Sweden, is on its way to reach a goal of a 44% reduction of direct CO2 emissions by 2015 from a 1990 baseline. This is the equivalent to an average per capita emissions level of just three tons annually, down from 5.4 tons in 1990, and is amongst the lowest per-person annual emissions in Europe. Stockholm aims to be fossil-fuel free by 2050, and has developed a roadmap with investments in renewables and energy-efficiency measures to get there. Highlights include its widespread district heating system, road congestion charges, and model retrofitting of the suburb Järva.

Stockholm was awarded the title Global Earth Hour Capital in Earth Hour City Challenge 2014

Keywords: fossil-fuel free, district heating, congestion charges, suburb retrofitting, solar panels

Since the 1960s, Stockholm has been one of the leading cities in urban sustainability, as a forerunner in early dense and transit-oriented planning and urban greening, and in waste and water management. After the oil crisis of the 1970s the city also invested in district heating and energy efficiency in buildings (see also Copenhagen). It was the first city to be chosen by the EU as European Green Capital in 2010, and ranked second behind Copenhagen in Siemens´ European Green City Index.

The goal to reduce CO2 emissions to 3 tons per person per year was set in Stockholm’s Action Plan for Climate and Energy 2012-2015, the fourth climate plan since 1998.

District heating system
From the 1990s, renewables and waste heat are increasingly used in the district heating system, leading to a reduction of CO2 emissions in Stockholm. Today district heating covers 80% of Stockholm’s heating demands, and is up to 80% produced by renewables, waste, and waste heat. The ambition is to completely phase out the share of fossil fuels and fossil fuel waste currently used in the system. Stockholm has also developed a district cooling system, using cold water from lakes and seas, and replacing less efficient chillers.

Linked to the expansion of the district heating system are ongoing energy-efficiency measures deployed in buildings since the 1970s, including improvements in heat and electricity control systems, insulation, and energy-efficient lighting. In accordance with EU rules, since 2006 all property owners have to make energy declarations for buildings, which speeds up renovations.

Sustainable Järva
Stockholm’s city administration aims to reduce the energy use in its own buildings by 50% before 2050. Through the city-owned real estate company Svenska Bostäder, Stockholm is also renovating Järva, one of its Million Program suburbs from the 1960s. (The Million Program was Sweden´s ambitious public housing goal to build a million affordable dwellings in the decade between 1965 and 1974.) The "Sustainable Järva" project aims to reduce energy use by 50% in the suburb, with 10,000 square meters of rooftop solar panels being installed. Sustainable Järva also serves as a demonstration project to the many Million Program suburbs in Sweden, as well as their equivalent in the rest of Europe, as suburbs are demanding in terms of energy consumption and are also in urgent need of renovation.

Stockholm’s well-developed public transport system, with subway, street trams and buses, has also been in place for decades and includes an 800-kilometer network of bicycle tracks. According to the city, the number of residents walking, cycling, or using public transport is increasing. The public transport system is used on average in two thirds of all daily trips, and during rush hours in 75% of all trips to and from the city center. Stockholm’s public transport system is currently only responsible for 5.3% of the CO2 emissions in the city’s transport sector, and that share is decreasing further due to an increasing use of biofuels in buses.

The Bike Billion
Since 1998, the number of cyclists in Stockholm has increased by 75%. The city has established a bike sharing system. Through the program “The Bike Billion,” Stockholm is investing one billion kronor (about US $140 million) through to 2018. It is implementing a range of measures to compete with cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam in bike-friendliness by enlarging the network of bike tracks and raising the priority of the bicycle as a means of transport.

Since congestion charges were introduced in 2007, car traffic to and from the city center has declined by 20% (see also London). Stockholm is also taking measures to reduce emissions from car traffic through green fuels – electricity, hydrogen, biogas, and bioethanol. In 2012, 14% of all vehicles ran on green fuels, and 96% of the city’s own fleet did so. The goal for 2015 is that more than half of new cars and 10% of all new heavy vehicles will run on green fuels. Stockholm is promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs) through free parking, EV charging stations, and a large procurement of 6,000 city vehicles.

Community outreach
Stockholm also has several community outreach efforts on climate issues, both to residents and to businesses. One prominent example is the awarding of ‘Environment Diplomas’ for companies that improve sustainability efforts. Through a step-by-step method developed by the city, the program helps participating companies establish environmental control systems in their management structures.

Stockholm City, The city´s climate work,

Stockholm City, “Stockholm Action Plan for Climate and Energy 2012-2015”,

EU, European Green Capital, 2010 – Stockholm,

Stockholm City, European Green Capital 2010,

LSE Cities, “Stockholm – Green Economy Leader Report”, 2013,

Siemens, European Green City Index, Stockholm,

Text by: Martin Jacobson

Svenska Bostäder retrofitting Järva
© Svenska Bostäder
EHCC awarded 2014