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Hamburg to be European Green Capital 2011
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Hamburg to be European Green Capital 2011

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While Stockholm currently holds the title for 2010, the German port city of Hamburg has been awarded the title of “European Green Capital 2011” by the European Commission. By displaying various best practice examples, Hamburg is proving how even a highly industrialised port city can succeed in combining ecological sustainability with economic growth. At the first European Green Capital Conference, which was recently held in Stockholm, Anja Hajduk, Hamburg’s Senator for Urban Development and the Environment, presented next year’s aspiring programme.

The title “European Green Capital” has been awarded to individual European cities by the European Commission since 2010. While Stockholm was the first city to hold the title, the City of Hamburg will follow in 2011. The title is awarded to cities that have excelled in the field of environmental protection. At the same time, the EU commission is hoping that the award will encourage European cities to increase their environment-related activities, while exchanging best practice examples and competing with each other.

So far, Hamburg has proven its success as a green city in various ways already. Renewable energy, for instance, is the city’s fastest-growing economic sector. The world's largest wind turbine company, Vestas, has recently relocated its Central Europe division to Hamburg and will be joined by The Nordex Group, which is one of the world's leading wind power plant suppliers. A number of other wind and solar companies are increasing their presence in the city over the next few years, and Greenpeace is expected to locate its new headquarters at HafenCity, a new district of Hamburg's port that is due to open in 2011.

Another field that clearly underlines Hamburg’s ambitions for the environment are plans significantly to reduce CO2 emissions over the coming decades. In a city of 1.8 million people (and a greater metropolitan population of 4.3 million), energy consumption is a serious issue. Therefore, Hamburg has set itself the goal to cut CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020, and by 80 percent by 2050. The city's governors have proactively sought partnerships and arrangements with a number of green companies in an effort to make the city emission-free.

At the Stockholm conference, Hamburg’s Environment Senator, Anja Hajduk, stressed the fact that “European cities are all facing the same challenges and can learn from each other. As Europe’s Green Capital of 2011, Hamburg is going to advance communication among European cities”. During the conference, Hamburg’s successors have also been announced: in 2012, Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) will take over the title, while Nantes (France) will follow in 2013.

At the European Green Capital Conference, urban decision-makers from the fields of politics, administration and business came together in order to discuss sustainability in urban environments. In addition to Stockholm’s contribution, participants from all over Europe as well as a US delegation presented their experience and their plans for a greener future. Anja Hajduk presented several projects from Hamburg, among them the expansion of the city’s public transport system, plans to erect a canopy over an existing urban motorway, as well as three large-scale development projects: HafenCity Hamburg, IBA Hamburg 2013 (International Building Exhibition) and the International Garden Show “IGS” 2013.

Hajduk further explained: “As a major industrial region, comprising Europe’s third biggest port, Hamburg faces considerable challenges as regards environmental protection. It is therefore our turn and our duty to strategically link the economic and the ecological spheres. The City of Hamburg aims at developing solutions that are beneficial to both spheres”.

Green ideas in motion: Train of Ideas

To enhance the exchange of ideas among European cities, Hamburg has come up with the “Train of Ideas”, an interactive exhibition on a train, with information about major ecological projects such as HafenCity, the new inner city district, and the reintroduction of a tram system. “With the Train of Ideas, we want to inspire people beyond the borders of Hamburg and motivate to protect the environment”, says Hajduk. “Similarly, we are also happy to bring home new ideas from other cities.” The exhibition will also present best practices from those cities in which the Train of Ideas will stop on its journey through Europe. The Train of Ideas starts in April 2011 and will pass through 17 European cities, among them Copenhagen, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona and Vienna.

Enhancing sustainability in all areas of life

Also in the City of Hamburg itself, the year 2011 will ignite the debate about exemplary concepts and solutions for the future of European cities. Several high-calibre events are planned, among them the first International Day of Environmental Law, during which legal guidelines for maritime environmental protection will be drafted. Another event to take place in 2011 will be the Green Port Congress, a conference for international experts who will discuss solutions for sustainable development in the maritime trade.

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