Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Växjö: Europe's greenest city

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Located in southern Sweden and with a population of about 80,000, Växjö bills itself as The Greenest City in Europe. Inspired by the Agenda 21 document signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Växjö adopted its first environmental policy in 1993, which was superseded in 1999 by The Environmental Programme for the City of Växjö. The Environmental Programme has three profile areas, each with its own guiding vision:

LIVING LIFE: “In Växjö, we have the vision that we will live and act so as to contribute to sustainable development where our consumption and production are resource-effective and pollution free.”

OUR NATURE: “ We have the vision that clean water, fresh air and a diverse natural and cultural environment, with a rich biological diversity will characterize the town, and the urban and rural areas of the municipality.”

FOSSIL FUEL FREE VAXJO: “We have the vision of a fossil fuel free Växjö, where our energy consumption does not lead to any climate change.”

The profile area most germane to Blue Fuel/DME, of course, is “Fossil Fuel Free Växjö”. The city first adopted this concept in 1996 and has kept it as a key component of its current Environmental Programme. The goal is to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide 50% by 2010 and 70% by 2025 over 1993 levels. As of 2007, the city had been successful in reducing emissions by 32%. The majority of those reductions were due to the use of biomass for heating, with almost 90% of the heating fuel coming from renewable energy sources.

The transportation sector is the source of most of the remaining emissions. One strategy for reducing transportation emissions is to develop a large-scale bio-DME production plant to provide a carbon-neutral vehicle fuel. In 2003 Växjö University established a center for biomass gasification and the city is currently participating in the Bio-DME Project, which for 2009 includes construction of a DME filling station to perfect DME infrastructure and ongoing testing of a small fleet of DME vehicles.

In 2007 Växjö received the Sustainable Energy Europe Award in recognition of its environmental efforts. This small Swedish city is a great role model that deserves to be emulated throughout the world. For more information about this innovative city, please check out its website.

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