Copenhagen plans adaptation for climate change

Copenhagen plans adaptation for climate change

Faced with increasing rainfall, rising sea levels and a warmer city centre, Copenhagen has developed its own climate-adaptation plan, as part of the city’s overall Climate Plan.

Copenhagen has integrated climate adaptation into all aspects of planning – from overall municipal planning to both local and sectoral plans. The Copenhagen Climate Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions by 20% between 2005 and 2015. Moreover, it indicates Copenhagen’s desire to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.

The plan consists of six climate goals, addressing energy, transport, buildings, urban development, behaviour and adaptation. It proposes 50 specific initiatives to help the capital achieve its 2015 goal.

Copenhagen has already lowered its environmental impact by cutting CO2 emissions by more than 20% over the last 10 years, and ensuring 30% of its energy supply comes from carbon-neutral sources. While these efforts go some way towards mitigating climate change, Copenhagen must still adapt to the inevitable modifications in future weather conditions.

Precipitation in Copenhagen is expected to increase by 30 to 40% by 2100, while water levels around the city are likely to rise by 33 to 61 cm over the next decade. The climate-adaptation plan was therefore developed to ensure adaptation measures are undertaken in the most cost-effective and efficient way.

Drainage systems will be significantly improved, so that they are capable of coping with major downpours. To this end, a range of tools will be used for better rainwater management – such as rain and sewage reservoirs, and sustainable urban drainage systems. Contaminated run-off from the city’s roads will also be treated.

The number of green areas – including ’pocket’ parks, and green roofs and walls – will be increased to slow rainfall run-off. Green roofs not only capture 60% of rainfall, but also improve air quality, vegetation and wildlife habitat, while reducing urban heat-island effects.

The use of alternatives to air conditioning in city buildings will be encouraged. Effective substitutes could include sunshades, improved ventilation and insulation. Finally, steps will be taken to upgrade flood defences against rising sea levels.

More information:

‘Copenhagen to be the world’s first CO2 neutral capital’ (City of Copenhagen news):


Related information on the ETAP Website:

‘Climate change adaptation in Copenhagen – planning and implementing innovative solutions’ (host city presentations, 7th ETAP Forum on Eco-innovation):

Jan Rasmussen, City of Copenhagen:


Dorthe Rømø, City of Copenhagen:



2BG: adapting to increased rainfall

Organised by the Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning at the University of Copenhagen, the Blue Black Green (2BG) project is assessing constraints associated with adapting the Copenhagen urban water system to more dynamic precipitation patterns. Through individual doctoral projects, 2BG will address the impact of increased filtration on groundwater levels, methods for controlling contaminants in storm water runoff and design approaches to incorporate storage and infiltration in urban structures.

More information: