Denmark is considered to be one of the greenest nations on the planet. Yet they have an unusual relationship with environmentalism. Heralded as a nation with a vast amount of policies that protect their ecology, and tackle climate change. From every political party, they will continue in this vein for many years, but what is their unusual relationship with environmentalism?
Denmark has an ambitious policy framework that backs up its plans to be fossil fuel-free by 2050. After they were completely dependent on imported oil, they were completely affected by the oil crisis of the 1970s.
Contradictions with Policy and Reality
The contradictions aren’t deliberate, they are not saying one idea and doing something else. 43 percent of their electricity comes from renewable energy sources. Approximately, 34,000 people were employed by cleantech firms during 2011. Between 2004-2009, turnover in the cleantech industry was higher, by 55 percent as opposed to just 8 percent in manufacturing.
This was a significant increase compared to manufacturing, which was just 12 percent. One-third of cleantech companies saw more increases in both 2010 and 2011, whereas just 4 percent saw a decrease in exports.
In addition to their cleantech industry, they have introduced many different policies to help this transition to cleaner living. They have invested heavily in wind and bio-energy, where they also use smart-grid technology, and this allows them to use electricity more efficiently. However, despite all their attempts and fantastic work they still are below neighbors Sweden, France, and Switzerland in regards to their carbon footprint per capita. This mostly comes down to agricultural farming and the fact that they have a high export in pork products. In 2014 it was reported that Denmark had the 4th largest eco-footprint.
Agri-Farming: Cause and Effect
Some of the causes of agricultural farming would come from pesticides and fertilizers. They have also increased their forest area to 14.1 percent, this has helped lead to the decrease of nitrogen in the air.
Keeping livestock leads to higher emissions due to new technology and the amount kept in smaller spaces. They are also fed unnatural diets and sent to a slaughterhouse, and this directly leads to more pollution. Agricultural pollution has more than just environmental effects, but there are also the health-related issues to the population.
Chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides make their way to groundwater, and end up in drinking water. Health-related problems can occur, blue baby syndrome, which causes the death of infants is just one issue that arises from these chemicals. Oil, degreasing agents, metals and toxins can also all cause health problems if they get into drinking water. Fertilizers, manure, waste, and ammonia turn into nitrate, which reduces the amount of oxygen present in water. This leads to the further death of aquatic animals, which can be detrimental to the eco-system.
Despite being a leading provider in cleantech, and a leading country in radical solutions to climate change.
Their cleantech industry is thriving and leading the way in efficiency but the pollution levels of their cities are still at an unacceptable level. Especially where they want to be. However, they have a plan in place and the framework to be a fossil-fuel-free nation by 2050.