The end of ØsterGro: Reaping the wrong benefits

Whilst the Danish capital prides itself on encouraging a green lifestyle, a parking lot is about to replace an urban rooftop farm in the heart of Copenhagen.

In 2012, the Copenhagen area Østerbro received the title of Copenhagen’s first climate-resilient neighborhood, an area actively adapted to climate change. Among an abundance of initiatives that all meet this adaptation, a group of young entrepreneurs teamed up to create ØsterGro – an urban rooftop farm with a social and sustainable agenda. At ØsterGro vegetables are grown, people gather for vegetarian dinners and more than 100 tons of dirt helps soak up the water when the infamous Danish rain hits the city and helps offload the sewers. Now, the municipality of Copenhagen wants to shut down ØsterGro to give up the rooftop space for parking lots. From a juridical point of view, they are completely entitled to. But what happened to setting the standard with Copenhagen’s first climate-resilient neighborhood? Where does this decision leave the capital’s image as a bicycle riding, green and happy nation? And last but not least, what can the city as well as its inhabitants do to reduce the amount of cars?

Instead of waiting for the politicians to take action, now is the time to look for local initiatives and improvements.

The glorious rooftop farm in summer. Photo: Østergro

The root to the riots

The irony of closing down one of the most climate-resilient initiatives in a climate-resilient neighborhood is almost too thick. The cars-before-climate attitude has generated a heated debate among the Copenhagen citizens and the removal of ØsterGro is the root to the riots.  Instead of waiting for the politicians to take action, now is the time to look for local initiatives and improvements. Cars are going to be around, whether we like it or not – and honestly, sometimes I do like the benefits of having a car around – but there are ways to combine cars with ecofriendly intentions. In my opinion, making space for more cars is not one of them. By building more parking lots, people have more reason to own cars. So how can every individual help decrease the number of cars, whilst still having the benefits of a car once in a while? The answer could be found simply in sharing.

Cars will remain in the future

Looking forward, I don’t believe we are close to a future without any cars at all. I do believe, however, that the future of cars is going to look different. In the far future they might be vehicles that can fly and emit zero CO2 at the same time, but that is a different story. The near future is what is relevant and greener solutions for our everyday lives are not as daunting as they may seem. Sharing a car with your neighbors, friends or family or using one of the car sharing apps are all options worth checking out. In the perfect world, I believe that sustainable rooftop farming and occasional use of cars should and could go hand in hand.

Written by Stefani Vujic for Yepti

The Peckish Pen
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