Doing climate action is not unique. But so is the way, that we do climate action in Sønderborg.  We show, how a local society can accelerate decarbonization by following a masterplan – continously executing and following up.

300000 tons

still to reduce

57 %

less CO2 than 2007

Most human activity depends on energy. Driving an energy system to zero therefore demands participation from everyone in the local community including businesses, politicians, citizens, building owners, utility companies and many more. Climate change is a global problem that will be solved on a local level. Proximity is a green asset. People are more likely to buy into a vision if they can feel the impact and share the commitment. ProjectZero is a testament to that. A key driver for ProjectZero’s results has been to ensure that all stakeholders see the potential and commit to the vision.

A masterplan sets the course for ProjectZero and ensures its momentum. Shifting an energy system to carbon neutrality requires many moving parts. It is important that actions reflect that. Based on a thorough mapping of the energy system, the master plan breaks the big challenge down into a dozen focus areas, or ‘hot spots,’ that require specific attention. Each hot spot has emission and energy reduction targets. Working groups consisting of relevant experts are tasked with finding the most cost-effective solutions that will help them meet their targets.

For that to succeed, planning, KPI’s and involvement is needed – just as for any well-run business. Therefore, the masterplan is managed with a model that sets operational KPIs to ensure emssion and energy reduction targets for each hotspot are met. For each KPI, there are a set of actions, which are also evaluated to ensure real progress.

Our recipe for making climate action happen

Local engagement behind a bold aspiration

From the very beginning in 2007, ProjectZero has had a bold aspiration that sets a clear direction: A carbon neutral energy system in 2029. But an aspiration is nothing without support, so its essential that citizens, businesses and organizations back the aspiration.

Develop a master plan

A master plan breaks the big challenge down into manageable bites and ensures momentum and engagement. 10 key areas, or ‘hot spots,’ each have emission and energy reduction targets that show the path to zero.

Organize local action

A plan is not enough to drive results. An organization is needed to keep stakeholders such as citizens and businesses engaged – and the project on track. ProjectZero drives performance mangement through operational KPIs for each hotspot, and follows up quarterly.



Local stakeholders take responsibility by engaging in the work to drive change in the  ‘hotspots.’ Collaboration, involvement, and knowledge sharing between stakeholders is
central. So is the business case. No stakeholders will play a part if it’s unclear what is in it for them.

The ProjectZero office mobilizes stakeholders to engage in the masterplan based on a ‘what’s in it for me’ principle which ensures dedication and commitment from all stakeholders.

Each of the ‘hot spots’ has an owner who takes the overall responsibility as well as a project manager who drives the process and secures input from a working group and experts.


In 2023, Sonderborg received the EU Mission Label . The award is the European Commission’s quality stamp of the ProjectZero Masterplan that is leading the way to making our energy system carbon-neutral by 2029. Sonderborg  was amongst the first 10 cities receiving the award – and the first in Denmark.

The designated cities must all draw up a Climate City Contract (CCC), which contains the city’s goals and plans for climate neutrality. The Mission Label states that their Climate City Contract has been reviewed and approved by the European Commission with support from experts – including the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Joint Research Center (JRC).

Obtaining the EU’s Mission Label can, among other things, help facilitate access to funding from the EU, national and regional funding sources, including private investment.