Sophie Hæstorp Andersen is Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, which is consistently ranked among the most sustainable cities in the world. Under Andersen’s leadership, Copenhagen is developing climate adaptation neighborhoods that are resilient to worsening climate impacts like flooding and other extreme weather. In July, Copenhagen joined the C40 Cities’ Green and Thriving Neighborhood pilot project; the city’s project will focus on creating an equitable, healthy, sustainable, net-zero community.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
The vision of global climate justice requires us all—and particularly rich cities in the Global North—to take responsibility for our full-scope climate footprint, including the emissions from products we import. Reducing consumption-based emissions is a critical challenge, and I aim to find solutions in this agenda as the new vice chair in C40 with a point of departure in our efforts to realize our upcoming Climate Plan in Copenhagen. Here, my goal is to take a leading role in reducing consumption-based emissions at the city-level while focusing on the balances and synergies between climate impact, green jobs, health, and liveability.
What sustainability effort do you hope will gain popularity with the public this year, and why?
I’m proud to say that Copenhagen is a world class cycling city, where many of us jump on the bike every single morning—regardless of rain and strong winds. But we could be even more on our bike lanes. As a municipality, we need to continue to make biking the best and easiest way to transport yourself. Both for the individual, but also for companies that carry around goods in the city by continuing to invest in cycling infrastructure and safety. When choosing the bike instead of taking the car, it’s not only healthy, but benefits air pollution and congestion.
Where should climate activism go in the next year?
Climate activism should continue to target people like me—politicians and decision makers—and ask for ambitious green changes of society at systemic level. But climate activism can and should also be in the households and local communities. We recently asked Copenhageners about their climate awareness and behavior: 91% believe that it is necessary for us as consumers to change behavior. Two out of three are ready to act. Some of the barriers mentioned are lack of knowledge, and that it is difficult to assess which actions have the greatest effect. As a municipality we must engage and facilitate knowledge on climate friendly choices in our citizens’ everyday life.
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