ICLEI European Secretariat

ICLEI European Secretariat



Member in the spotlight

Hamburg, Germany 

The city of Hamburg is home to 4.3 million inhabitants in the metropolitan region, 1.8 of which reside in the city centre. In recent years Hamburg has made huge strides in its quest to become a sustainable city and can boast that it is impressively green in comparison to most cities similar in size, with over 16.7 percent of the urban area consisting of forest, recreation and green spaces.

As a major industrial centre, Hamburg confronts all the environmental challenges that face other European cities. Hamburg has forged a connection between building one of the world’s most ‘liveable’ cities and expanding as an industrial metropolis and hub for trade and transportation. It has already made excellent progress in environmental protection and intends to increase these efforts. Hamburg implements all aspects of European environmental policy, ranging from climate protection and improving air quality to water management and nature conservation.

Hamburg has made real efforts to cut back on CO2, with a Municipal Climate Protection Act, adaptation and research programmes. The city aims to cut the carbon emissions by 40 percent from 1990 to 2020, and by 80 percent from 1990 to 2050. The climate protection programme, approved by the local government in summer 2007, identifies 10 areas of action covering over 450 individual measures. The city invests up to €22.5 million a year in these measures. Hamburg's greatest achievement to date is the fact that it can proudly state that it was awarded the title of European Green Capital for 2011 in a competition run by the European Commission.

Sustainablity focus: Converting waste into energy

Hamburg’s citizens use 108l of water on average every day. Detergents, cleaning agents, dirt, feces and more importantly energy are flushed down the drain. Energy that was used to produce warm water is released without being used again. If this energy is reused it can reduce resource consumption and protect the environment.

Hamburg’s sewer network is 5.500km long and provides 290.00m³ of sewage water, which has huge potential for generating heat. With this amount of water 21MW heating energy can be produce as even on cold winter days the water has a minimum temperature of 10°C. Since autumn 2009, a pilot plant in the city has been providing 200 apartments with heat from the sewerage system.

The underlying principle is simple. A heat exchanger is fitted into the sewage system, which extracts the heat from the relatively warm sewage water. The temperature level is then raised to the level of the heating circuit in the control centre. In the end only the climate will notice that the heat in the living room or shower is coming from the sewerage system.

Fast facts:
  • Roughly 8% of Hamburg’s area accounts for nature conservation areas, placing Hamburg ahead of its fellow German states
  • 57 wind rotors currently generate roughly 54 GWh of electricity in Hamburg
  • 99% of residents have access to public transport within 300m of their homes
  • Renewable energy sources amount to 3 percent of primary energy production
  • CO2 emissions cut by 158% (1990-2006)




"“As European Green Capital 2011 our aim is to serve as a role model to other European cities. Combining forces to protect the environment is of paramount importance, since environmental challenges do not stop at country or city boundaries. Hamburg is proud to be a learning city, which seeks out best-practices from fellow ICLEI members.”."

Olaf Scholz,
First Mayor, City of Hamburg

ICLEI and Hamburg:
Hamburg has been an ICLEI member since 2008. The city is involved in several projects that ICLEI is a partner in. These include SWITCH - Managing Water for the City of the Future.  Hamburg is one of 13 cities worldwide that are investigating and promoting sustainable urban water systems through action research and multi-stakeholder Learning Alliances. The city is also a partner in the RELIEF research project and is supporting the ICLEI European Convention 2011.

: http://english.hamburg.de and http://www.hamburg.de [In German]