Green, greener, Copenhagen: Why Danes love to “be green”

October 30, 2012  //  By:   //  DISCUSS, OFF CAMPUS  //  2 Comments

One of the first things I noticed when I came to Denmark were the windmills. They were everywhere. In the fields, parking lots, they even put them in the ocean. Now there is certainly a lot of wind here (every girl that has ever tried going out with nice hair can confirm that) and it’s nothing but smart to actually make use of it, but there is more to this sustainable movement than the economic aspect.

Copenhagen is a role model for sustainable urban planning. With the city striving to become CO2 neutral by 2025 (meaning that CO2 emissions are reduced to a minimum and the remaining emissions are compensated for with green initiatives so as to achieve zero net CO2 emissions), the city council has implemented an action plan to provide renewable energy and, at the same time, reduce the use thereof. This not only means retrofitting houses, but also increasing usage of bikes as well as saving water, electricity and so on. This plan might seem ambitious, but so far the city has reached its interim goals way ahead of time and passed all tests with flying colors. Go Copenhagen!

In addition to sustainable urban life, our very own Copenhagen Business School has jumped on the environmental bandwagon and is working hard to catch up with the city planners. In only four years, the CBS Goes Green campaign has reduced the school’s CO2 emissions by 20% and they’re not stopping there. This is evidence of CBS’s strategy to become a sustainable university. This has been very well received by the Danish media and the public, which is not surprising because Danes simply love to care about the environment.

This is another thing that I’ve noticed about life in Copenhagen: Danes care. They care about each other, they care about the community and, most importantly, they care about nature. Having lived in the city for 2 years by now, I have seen a countless number of initiatives to improve “the quality of life”. Now don’t get me wrong, I love sustainability just as much as the average Dane does, but I’ve always wondered why “being green” is so much more popular here than anywhere else.

Danes not only separate trash in God knows how many different categories, save water, and turn off the lights, but they also don’t mind biking day in and day out in weather conditions that would make an Alaskan dog-sledge driver shiver. But what makes them willing to make these efforts?

Now, you can blame their cultural heritage. Danes are Vikings. They have not only been able to survive on this ferocious piece of land, but they have been thriving on it (Just look at their size!) So, a 15-minute bike ride to school does not easily throw them off.

So is it just that Danes are simply good, law-abiding citizens or is there another reason for their high commitment?

Well, you don’t need to be Einstein to know that the country is flat, really flat. The island of Amager, for instance, has been extracted from the sea and is now only a couple of meters above sea level. So, with global warming, the ocean is slowly creeping up on their beloved Copenhagen and as much as Danes do love the sea, they certainly don’t want it flooding their backyard.

All in all, Danes are doing a really great job at turning their capital into a “green” island by promoting renewable energy and even changing their own habits. However, with the water literally at their doorsteps, they certainly have a higher incentive than many other nations. If you had the choice between separating paper from plastic or packing up your stuff to secure yourself a spot on Frederiksberg hill, you would looove to be green, too.


About the Author :

Silke is a 3rd year BLC student. Contrary to many lazy Germans in her study program, she chose the language area French because she already knows what is going on in her home country. Having also lived in France, Canada and the Netherlands before coming to DK, she enjoys hanging out with the international crowd at CBS and even gets along with all the Danes at her dorm. Being a language freak, she unsucessfully tried to learn Danish for 2 years before resigning to the fact that it's more of an illness rather than a language. She also supports all kinds of "green" initiatives and likes making fun of boring finance people.

2 Comments to “Green, greener, Copenhagen: Why Danes love to “be green””
  • Chiasson
    November 1, 2012 - Reply

    Nice article.  
    As an expat I am very happy to call Copenhagen home for the reasons you have listed above.  Being “green” has to be a national movement or “ideology” in order to be successful.  Danes should be very proud that they value sustainability.  They have moved beyond the debate and are now proceeding to action. This is a step that many other countries continuously fail to take.

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