Uppsala – A European Pilot City
Uppsala has been selected as a European Pilot City in the EU initiative NetZeroCities. Uppsala, together with Uppsala Vatten och Avfall, Uppsalahem and STUNS, have been granted 1,5 million euro to accelerate climate action within two projects: the implementation of a carbon budget and the activation of circular practices. The pilot city project will proceed from 2023 to 2025.
Uppsala – An Award Winning Climate City
Uppsala was selected the World Climate City (2018) and Sweden’s Climate City (2020) by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for its ambitious climate goals, overall ESG performance and strong leadership and efforts to share knowledge on best practices.
Uppsala was also declared Sweden’s Best Cycling City by the national cycling advocacy organization Cykelfrämjandet for four consecutive years between the years 2018–2021. Uppsala received this award because of its pervasive cycling paths, mandate that cycling paths have priority in snow removal, and its work to certify bicycle-friendly workplaces.
Uppsala Shows the Way to a Sustainable Future
There is a strong drive in Uppsala's work for climate action. Our vision is that "Uppsala shall lead the climate transition".
The long term climate goals
The plan for reaching our goals is outlined in the Environmental and Climate Programme. Below is a condensed version of Uppsala's goals and milestones from the programme.
Uppsala has three long term climate goals.
- Toxin-free Environment 2050 and Sustainable Resource Flows
- A Climate-Neutral Uppsala by 2030 for a Climate-Positive Uppsala by 2050 at the latest
- A Climate-Adapted Uppsala
Toxin-free Environment 2050 and Sustainable Resource Flows
Reducing the use and exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the greatest global and local environmental and health challenges of our time. The Municipality will implement its action by:
- Setting requirements linked to the goal when purchasing goods and services.
- Informing people who live, work, and reside in Uppsala Municipality about the need to work together for a toxin-free environment.
A Climate-Neutral Uppsala by 2030 for a Climate-Positive Uppsala by 2050 at the latest
A Climate-Neutral Uppsala by 2030 implies that:
- Greenhouse gas emissions will decrease at the rate required to be in line with the Paris Agreement and sustain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The reduction in Uppsala shall be 10–14 per cent per year.
- Total greenhouse gas emissions in the municipality may amount to a maximum of 28 percent of the emissions 2020 or 297 kilotons of CO2e by 2030.
- Net zero emissions must be achieved by 2030 at the latest. This implies that absorption of greenhouse gases (negative emissions) must amount to at least the same amount as residual emissions after the annual emission reduction of 10 to 14 per cent within the Municipality. Negative emissions cannot replace reduction of emissions but are means of achieving climate-neutrality and climate-positivity.
A Climate-Adapted Uppsala
Uppsala, like most cities and communities, is designed in such a way that the effects of climate change are often amplified. There are, for example, hard surfaces and densely populated areas which can exacerbate the effects of floods and heat waves. The climate factors which principally affect Uppsala Municipality are:
- higher temperatures with milder winters and longer periods of vegetation growth
- more heat waves and greater risk of local heat islands
- increased risk of drought
- higher precipitation and heavier cloudbursts
- increased risk of flooding and changed flows in watercourses, including in Fyrisån.
In the chart below you can see that Uppsala's emissions of greenhouse gases have gone down since 1990. The chart also shows target levels according to the long-term targets.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Uppsala
Uppsala’s emissions have steadily decreased since 1990. It is mainly the emissions from heating and long-distance traveling which have decreased. The emission from heating have continuously decreased as fossil fuels have been exchanged to sustainable bio-based fuels. The emission left for heating comes from the combustion of waste, and especially from the fossil fuel plastic which can be found in the waste.
The emissions from long-distance traveling where greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and are estimated on a national level to have decreased by 80 per cent. Since the pandemic emissions from traveling are estimated to increase as traveling, especially by airplane, returns to pre-pandemic patterns.
However, to continue the decrease in emissions and fulfill our goal of a 10-14 per cent decrease of emissions yearly, Uppsala will implement and activate a carbon budget. The purpose of the carbon budget is to secure that action is taken to decrease emission in line with our goal. Decarbonization of the transport sector, increase of circular flows especially for construction, and a phase out and increased recycling of fossil plastic are key examples of activities needed to follow the emission decrease stated in our goal.
Seven Milestones for a Better Climate
In the Environmental and Climate Programme seven milestones are set for the Municipality’s climate action. The milestones shall act as a driving force for a rapid development into a sustainable society and in the long run make it possible to reach Uppsala's long term climate goals.
- Within Uppsala Municipality’s geographical area, approximately 100 megawatts of solar energy will have been installed by the year 2030. Uppsala Municipality will ensure, where possible, that municipal properties have solar cells on their roofs by 2025.
- The Municipality's fleet of vehicles, machines and contracted transportation will be fossil fuel-free by 2023. Procurement contracts will be fossil fuel-free by 2027.
- Uppsala Municipality will reduce its direct energy use every year through energy efficiency initiatives for properties, and activities to ensure climate-neutrality by 2030.
- Uppsala Municipality must reduce the presence of environmentally and health-hazardous substances in procured and purchased goods, services and contracts.
- Food purchased by undertakings financed by Uppsala Municipality will consist of 100 per cent organic food by 2023. The climate impact will be no more than 1.25 kg of CO2e per kg of food purchased by 2030.
- Uppsala Municipality's new goods with plastic content will contain only recycled or renewable plastic by 2030.
- The Municipality of Uppsala will reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases from completed construction projects every year to ensure climate-neutrality by 2030. The goal refers to both the Municipality's own projects and projects which are carried out through parcelling out land.
Energy Programme 2050
The transition to a new energy system is a crucial part in reaching our climate goals. Therefore have Uppsala Municipality developed an energy program in 2018 to show how the municipality and other stakeholders together can achieve an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable energy system.
The programme is based on Uppsala Municipality's targets for resource efficiency, health, environment and climate, countryside and city development, more jobs and environmentally friendly business development, civil preparedness, and the strengthening of ecosystems. The energy programme is a cornerstone in making Uppsala fossil fuel free and renewable by 2030 and climate positive by 2050 at the latest.
Projects and Investments
Uppsala is growing rapidly. It is a challenge to grow and simultaneously reduce emissions and climate impact. However, building new areas also provides opportunities to create better conditions and solve sustainability challenges. We have listed some examples of our climate actions below.
Uppsala Climate Protocol
Uppsala Climate Protocol is a local network initiated by the Municipality in which companies, associations, universities and public organizations work together and inspire each other and others to secure Uppsala's long-term energy and climate goals. The fifth programme period is running 2022-2025. The network consists of about 40 members.
In early 2010, Uppsala Municipality invited local actors from both the public and private sector to sign a "local Kyoto Protocol" which became Uppsala Climate Protocol. In the first programme period (2010-2012) 17 organizations signed the protocol. Today the protocol is an established and effective arena for climate action and cooperation in Uppsala, and the main gathering for developing ideas how to reach the city's long-term energy and climate goals. Each member sets energy and climate goals (in sectors buildings, transports, production and other) to reach a common goal for the programme period.
- During the first period (2010-2012), the common goal was to decrease the members' greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 %. The outcome was a decrease of about 4 %, while total turnover increased.
- During the subsequent programme period (2012-2015), the goal was to reduce our collective emissions by about 4.5 %. The result was a decrease of fully 11 %.
- For the third period, 2015-2018, the goal was to reduce emissions in total by 4,7 % in 2016-17. The results showed a twice as high reduction of 10 %.
- During the fourth period (2018-2021), the networks emission decreased by 26 % compared to the goal of a decrease of 14% (a goal based on the carbon budget of the Paris Agreement).
For the current, and fifth, period the network’s goal is to continue a decrease in emission to stay within the carbon budget of the Paris Agreement with an average decrease of 14 % per year.
The continuously positive results in emission reductions from Uppsala Climate Protocol have showed that it is an effective collaboration for climate action.
Innovative New Neighbourhoods
Uppsala municipality wants to set a new standard for sustainable travel which will play an important part if the Municipality's long-term climate and environmental goals are to be reached.
Several major areas in Uppsala are under development to meet the expected population growth. For the new residential area, Ulleråker, a mobility action plan has been developed. Ulleråker will thus act as a forerunner and set a standard for how systematic mobility work should be carried out within Uppsala.
The plan describes organization and working methods in the planning process to ensure systematic work with sustainable mobility throughout all the stages. It also explains how to monitor and evaluate goals and work processes. The plan will contribute to achieving Uppsala's ambitious goals, which, among other things, indicate that at least 80 % of the inhabitant's trips will come about by walking, cycling, or public transport.
Material choices in new buildings are made in regard to climate impact and the reduction of negative environmental effects. A life-cycle perspective characterizes both the construction of houses and the design of public spaces. The starting point is choosing robust material of high quality and long life span. This reduces future operating costs and renovation needs.
In another new area, Rosendal, parks and green spaces are designed to provide ecosystem services: features that benefit humans and preserve and improve living conditions and well-being for plants and animals as well. Air to breathe, food, pollination, and other values that provide quality of life and health.
The water in Rosendal is taken care of locally. This means that the water is delayed and cleaned in the area's natural waters, ponds, plants, rain beds, and temporary flood zones. Water is supplied to trees, plant beds and raised in open waterways to add natural beauty. The plan beds are enriched with bio-char, making them a carbon sink – a climate positive action.
Biking Before Driving
The Municipality of Uppsala has been focusing on cycling issues for several years. A few years ago, a major analysis was conducted with focus group interviews with politicians, students, bicycle companies, bicycle dealers, major employers, etc. Also, a wide-ranging survey of residents was conducted. The result clearly showed that two areas were prioritized, namely information and communication on traffic rules and the extension of Uppsala’s cycle infrastructure. In line with this, widespread efforts are ongoing, for example construction of more separate cycle paths/lanes and improvements in previously built cycling infrastructure.
Promotion and information on bicycling has made it easier to choose the bicycle as a first-hand transportation mode. This includes for example bicycling courses for both adults and children, traffic information, maps, safer bike paths to schools, and more.
An obstacle for many inhabitants whom usually enjoys biking is the Swedish winter. Biking in northern Europe is not always easy and comfortable in the winter due to the snow, icy roads, and cold weather. There are however things one can do to make it safer and easier. To further encourage those who previously felt the need to use motorized transportation during the cold months the municipality started the project "Winter Cyclists". The project aims to both help individual bikers and making sure that biking lanes are safe and free from snow. Bike lanes are now the number one priority when removing snow and sanding. The bikers are also given equipment like studded tires and warm saddle covers to make it safer and more comfortable.
Uppsala Produces its Own Biogas
Since the end of the 1990s Uppsala has had its own production of biogas made from organic waste from households, restaurants, and industries. Through the years, the operation has grown from producing about 100 000 Nm3 biogas a year to today's production of about 6 700 000 Nm3 a year. It is one of the world's leading facilities for producing biogas from organic waste and sewage. Apart from being a great energy alternative biogas makes an effective use of our waste in a circular economy.
The biogas plays an important part in Uppsala's path to a fossil fuel free community. The gas is also a better alternative to conventional fuels regarding air quality and pollution. It is therefore mainly used to fuel public buses in the city area. But is also sold to private car owners and taxi companies.
More projects and climate initiatives
Below is a link to our Swedish webpage with more examples.