Uppsala – climate-positive attitude

Posted on February, 28 2019

Uppsala is a bustling city just north of Stockholm, famous for its renowned university. It was also named the global winner of the One Planet City Challenge in 2018.The jury was impressed by the city’s long-term goals, as well as its overall performance. Uppsala wants to be fossil-fuel free by 2030, and climate positive by 2050. This means that the city is focused on more than achieving zero emissions. According to the deputy mayor, “Climate positive is more than just a goal, it’s an attitude”. And this attitude has deep historic roots in Uppsala.


Home of the man who named the natural world

Uppsala is the fourth-largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. It is a well-known cultural center with a prestigious university that is the oldest in Sweden. Among the most distinguished historical figures to teach there, one has been particularly celebrated: the world-renowned botanist Carl von Linné, also called Carolus Linnaeus and Carl Linnaeus. In the 1700s, Carl von Linné developed binomial nomenclature, the Latin system for naming natural species that we continue to use today. His legacy can still be felt in Uppsala, and perhaps it has even partially inspired the city’s ultimate goal – to contribute to global ecological recovery. 

Winner of the One Planet City Challenge

Uppsala was the winner of our One Planet City Challenge 2018. The city impressed the jury with its long-term goals, which are in alignment with the Paris Agreement and are somewhat stronger than Sweden’s national goals. More importantly, Uppsala is putting real actions into achieving those goals. The jury, consisting of 19 international experts, was impressed by how the city effectively allocates budgets and sets ambitious regulations. For example, it set targets to cut the net community CO2 emissions by 100% no later than 2050 – and to become climate positive thereafter, which means removing additional CO2 from the atmosphere.


From the Paris Agreement to the Uppsala Climate Protocol

Uppsala has thrown itself headlong into the challenge by engaging all city stakeholders. And here the famous motto, “Think global, act local” has been applied in a particularly innovative way. Since 2010, city officials and local stakeholders have worked together in a network, affectionately referred to as a local Paris Agreement. The network initiative is called the Uppsala Climate Protocol, and 37 local organizations are active members. Over the past two years they have reduced their total carbon emissions by 10 %.
WWF has calculated that if municipalities around the world replicated this Climate Protocol by engaging 20% of their local companies and organizations, it would lead to yearly emissions cuts of at least 58,000, 000 tons of CO2 per year. That number is higher than Sweden’s total annual emissions.

Biking is preferred transit mode

In 2019 the campaign Climate Made Easy will launch to help inhabitants reduce their personal emissions. It centers on solutions, information and a carbon tracker. As of next year, Uppsala residents on the move will ride buses run on renewables and biofuel, much of which will be produced from local food waste. Some locally produced biogas is also already available for cars at local gas stations. To encourage people to bike and leave their cars at home, new bike highways have been built, and there’s a new two-story bike-parking garage next to the train station. Bike lanes are prioritized for snow clearing, too – a clear indication of what transit mode the city prefers. The Climate Protocol network has also established its own certification system for bike-friendly workplaces, and rewards participants with stars for fulfilling bike-friendly criteria.


What about Linné?

He would have been proud to find members of the Uppsala Climate Protocol coming together from a broad range of sectors, each with an important stake in ecological recovery – such as recycling, energy, IT, buildings and NGOs. And naturally, he would have been proud to know that the locals in Uppsala are committed to doing their part for a safer climate.

We look forward to following how the members of this local network inspire each other and the rest of the world on their journey to making Uppsala climate positive.

WWF's One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) assesses the gap between your city's current emissions and the safe range (limiting global warming to 1.5 °C). We also advice on high impact reduction actions. In the end, we select national OPCC winners and a global winner. If you want your city to join send them to panda.org/opcc or opcc@wwf.se

Some facts about Uppsala:
  • Population: 219,914
  • Fourth largest city in Sweden
  • Climate goals: fossil-fuel free by 2030. Climate positive by 2050 and contributing to global ecological recovery
  • The Swedish national climate policy aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020 and to reach net zero emissions by 2045.
  • The Uppsala Climate Protocol is a network that started in 2010 with 17 organizations. Today it involves 37 organizations, including stakeholders from all sectors of society working to contribute to meeting the city’s climate targets.
  • All members of the Uppsala Climate Protocol (the municipality included) measure and report their carbon emissions. This is the basis for a joint network climate target. Membership fees finance a team that facilitates network co-operation.

Want to learn more?
OPCC winner 2020 Uppsala