Back to overview


Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is the Capital of Denmark and also its political, cultural and economic centre. The city has an urban population of about 1.25 million inhabitants. The population of metropolitan area is close to 2 million people. Copenhagen is considered to be one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.The share of cycling is very high and the city has a strong policy focus on bikes as well as public transport. The city also has installed a low emission zone of heavy goods vehicles and ties it to municipal fleet management and the use of non-road machinery.

Overall Grade: B 87%

Pie Chart 87
  • Graph Reduction Success Local Emissions
  • Graph Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters
  • Graph Public Procurement Clean Cars
  • Graph Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources
  • Graph Use of Economic Incentives
  • Graph Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split
  • Graph Promotion of Public Transport
  • Graph Promotion of Walking & Cycling
  • Graph Transparency & Communication Policy


Reduction Success Local Emissions

Copenhagen has relatively low air pollution levels, both for PM10 and for NO2. Some traffic measurement stations even comply with NO2 limits, however the station H.C. Andersens Boulevard still reports NO2 levels above EU limit values: in comparison with 2008 levels of 54.9 µg/m³, measurements in 2012 showed 55.1 µg/m³. However, the limit values are potentially within reach. For PM10, the city is complying with the limit values with levels of between 33.2 µg/m³ in 2008 and 30.8 µg/m³ in 2012. The city states a large background share for both particles (PM2.5) and NO2, of 89% and 60% respectively.

Clean Air Copenhagen 2014 (Engl.):…

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

In 2006, the national government allowed Copenhagen and four other cities to introduce a low emission zone (LEZ). Copenhagen has had an LEZ for heavy goods vehicles since 2008. Since 2010, all vehicles heavier than 3.5t (buses and lorries) have been required to comply with at least the Euro IV standards or to be equipped with a certified particulate filter. The zone covers almost the whole city area. The city would like to impose a stricter LEZ but this is not possible for vans or personal cars unless the national government changes the law.

Public Procurement Clean Cars

All vehicles within the municipal fleet are required to comply with the city’s LEZ. Additionally, the city achieved its target to make all public cars in Copenhagen electric or hydrogen powered by 2015. In the city’s climate plan, the target is to achieve a complete transformation to electricity, hydrogen or biofuels.

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

The city of Copenhagen has a policy where private contractors must have particle filters on non-road mobile machines (NRMM), for example when constructing the new metro stations in Copenhagen. There are also other obligations for construction contractors, including those for minimising transportation during the construction period and energy consumption standards for the materials used. There are no general filter requirements for construction sites.

Use of Economic Incentives

Since the city updated its parking strategy in 2006, it has continuously made minor improvements like for example increasing the number of paid parking spaces or adjusting parking prices to inflation. Part of its current strategy also includes an increase in the number of on-street parking spaces in certain areas to improve conditions for residents.

As with a possible introduction of a congestion charging zone, the city has expressed its interest to again increase its parking management. However, the Danish national government blocked these attempts.

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

Copenhagen has a comprehensive strategy to increase sustainable mobility and offers a wide range of mobility management services. For example, the city undertakes company mobility programmes and it also has an extensive speed limit approach. The planned target is to set 40 km/h as the general speed limit in Copenhagen, paired with 30 km/h in residential areas. There are 3 car-sharing organisations with 130 parking spaces for their cars.

In 2013, the modal split of Copenhagen showed a very low rate of car use with 29%. public transport was at 28%, cycling at 36% and walking at 7%. This is a very sustainable transport pattern and the city still wants to improve it. For example, its target is to have 50% of all commuting journeys happen on bicycles.

Promotion of Public Transport

Copenhagen’s public transport builds on local trains, a metro and an extensive bus system. For a long time, the city has significantly built on its system and continues to do so. Currently, Copenhagen is investing in a new metro city ring that is scheduled to be finished in 2018, with a total of 17 stations in the city centre. A further extension by three stations to Nordhavn will open in 2021. The city also has done a lot of work on the high-frequency bus system.

Interestingly, national regulation mandates a principle of station proximity, requiring new office buildings to be within 600 metres of a train station.

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

Copenhagen is one of Europe’s most prolific cycling cities. It has a very high share of cycling and the continuous promotion of cycling is part of the long-term mobility management programme. Current measures are outlined in the “good, better, best – Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025”. They include the creation of PLUSnet, a network of ‘Bicycle Superhighways” on very congested routes.

Many measures have already been accomplished, such as intersections granting priority to cyclists in many cases. Bicycles can also be brought onto all trains and in the metro with only a few restrictions during rush hours. Furthermore, the city also has had a bike-sharing system since 1995 and is currently reforming it.

Copenhagen’s Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025 (Engl.):

Transparency & Communication Policy

Copenhagen has a website supplying general information, including general contact data as well as a series of reports on local initiatives and city planning documents. Furthermore, in Denmark the Department of Environmental Science of the Aarhus university is in charge of air quality monitoring and also supplies all the national air quality data, including for Copenhagen. It publishes annual reports, 3-day air quality forecasts and a station map

Copenhagen on air quality (Dan.):

Response to Questionnaire

The City replied to the questionnaire.