Växjö a frontrunner towards climate neutrality

Växjö is a municipality with almost 100,000 inhabitants located in the central south Sweden. Växjö has a long tradition of environmental excellence, built on a strong political consensus going back to the early 1970’s. At date Växjö has succeeded to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions per capita by almost 60% since 1993, while retaining fast growth in terms of population and economical prosperity. The success rests on numerous measures where the introduction of a bio-based district heating system in 1980 is one of the major contributors. The system has been continuously upgraded and in 2019 the city reached 100% fossil free energy production when phasing out peat as part of the fuel mix. Today the system provides both district heating and cooling and produces approximately 1/3 of the city’s need of electricity.

By striving for excellence, Växjö has succeeded to build an international reputation for its environmental performance, starting with the BBC recognizing Växjö as the Greenest City in Europe in a broadcast in 2007. This led to a substantial international interest with hundreds of international visitor groups and report stories in international press. In 2018, this was formally recognized when Växjö was awarded the ‘European Green Leaf Award’ by the European Commission, thereby getting an official acknowledgement.

Wooden path on the lake in Växjö, photo by Mats Samuelsson.

Already in 1996, probably as one of the first cities in the world, Växjö took the decision to become free from fossil fuels. In 2010, this was defined to be achieved by 2030. This was further recognized in the Sustainability Program adopted in 2019, stating: “We who live and work in Växjö shall not have any negative impact on the climate by 2030”. This also means that the goal stretches to other greenhouse gases, as well as carbon footprint in other countries.   

In order to reach this goal, Växjö joined the national strategic programme Viable Cities programme for climate neutral cities 2030. In this programme Växjö is one of nine Swedish cities that has made the same commitment and thereby taken the role of becoming front runners for climate neutrality and signed climate city contracts outlining the strategies to reach this objective. Viable Cities ultimately aims to create transformative system change based on the mission “Climate-neutral cities 2030 with a good life for everyone within the planet's borders” and supports the cities in their strive to reach this goal by taking a mission based approach to reach their climate goals and showing an example forward for others to follow.

View of Växjö and Helgasjön, photo by Anders Bergön.

Växjö’s climate city contract, which was signed in December 2020 is built on the local Sustainability Program, and therefore also linked to the Agenda 2030 goals. Växjö’s climate strategy mainly consists of a combination of sustainable city planning, greater share of renewable energy, more efficient energy use, a sustainable transport system and a sustainable use of resources. More specifically, Växjö aims to increase wind and solar energy production, promote cycling and walking, electrify public transport, promote production of bio-fuel, wooden buildings, energy efficient renovations of buildings and promote circular economy, partly by intensify reuse and recycling, including of building materials. As one of the boldest measures in the pipe-line is to explore the opportunities to capture and store biologic carbon dioxide from the combined heat and power plant. This measure could in a initial phase reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 180,000 ton per year – corresponding to twice the amount of emissions of methane and nitrous oxide in Växjö, and thereby helping us to achieve climate neutrality.

 

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Henrik Johansson (henrik.johansson(at)vaxjo.se)