Opinion: Nordic countries take the lead on climate

Copenhagen, Denmark - July 15, 2017: The Cruise Sip Msc Magnific

Offshore wind turbines near the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. Photo credit: balipadma via Bigstock.

By Anders Lorenzen

Germany and the Nordic countries are often praised for their leadership in sustainability and green policies, but what is the current status quo.

Germany is actually moving on from its green leadership role and has recently gone from hero to villain due to its struggle to wean itself off coal power during its nuclear phase-out. Whilst other big economic players such as France and the UK are almost free of coal and reporting emissions reductions, Germany’s emissions have actually gone up due to increased coal use.

But in the Nordic countries, the story is different and their reputation is still intact; there is a renewed ambition to drive forward green agendas.

In Denmark’s recent general election the incoming prime minister Mette Frederiksen pronounced it ‘Denmark’s first climate election’ in which action on climate was among the top issue for voters.

While Norway is still the biggest fossil fuel producer in Europe, their sovereign wealth fund (world’s wealthiest) has just pledged to divest from 150 fossil fuel companies and divert that capital into clean energy, giving a massive boost to the clean energy economy and further relegate the fossil fuel industry to history.

Finland’s fairly new coalition government, in power since April this year, recently announced that the country will be carbon neutral by 2035.

Sweden is slightly less ambitious with a carbon neutrality date of 2045 but has still been on everyone’s lips due to the prolific activity of climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has spearheaded a global climate movement in schools. It’s also the country in which the ‘flyskam’ (flying shame) movement began, in which people are encouraged to reduce/stop flying, hugely boosting train travel across the region.

Nordic countries taking the lead on decarbonisation will only have a modest impact on reducing emissions on a global scale they can lead the way in highlighting trends for other countries to follow, hopefully heralding significant policy changes on the global stage.

 

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