The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

Meet the Danes

Recently, the United Nations replaced the environmentally unconscious Millennium Development Goals with an aggressive seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs add sustainable action to the worldwide agenda expiring in 2030. These goals include an ambitious 169 sustainability targets that should “stimulate action over the next fifteen years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet”, attempting to change the Millennial mindset. This announcement of a new universal sustainability agenda got me thinking who, if anyone, is developing currently with this ambition?     

Well, welcome to Denmark where the population of just under 6 million environmentalists lead the world in sustainability. A big 33.76% of Danish electricity is powered by pure renewables as the wind blows at an average speed of 7.6 meters per second, explaining why Denmark is one of the world's largest exporters of wind turbines. The capital city of Copenhagen has been deemed the most livable city in the world; the city will be carbon neutral by 2025. I use the words “will be” consciously. The ambition of this country to make significant differences in sustainable life is beyond great and they will achieve their goals. Already achieving, the Danes have reduced carbon emissions by 20 per cent in the capital city. That is the result of confident Copenhagen hard at work while the province of Alberta is busy in boardrooms trying to catch a glimpse of a climate change policy. Meanwhile, the city of Copenhagen has also implemented a ‘Climate Adaption Plan’ that aims to develop the city in sustainable ways that closely link to the long-term planning of urban development. They attempt to incorporate climate adaptation into all sectors of society, such as improving groundwater waste systems. As you can see, the country is well on track of meeting their 2020 goal of achieving fifty percent of its power from solely renewables.

The Danes believe that designing society with sustainability  in mind will be an asset for the city and help to secure growth in Copenhagen. Like the UN, Denmark has embraced serious ambition into the agenda of sustainability. I believe, that the new mentality of the SDGs must be embraced with raw ambition. Denmark is a relatively small case study, yet its ambition is forceful. The is country breathing excellence in incorporating sustainable action into all actions of society and most importantly the average Dane has accepted the invitation to participate. I think, especially in Alberta, we lack this environmental  inclusiveness applied to all sectors in society. I am not implying that we need to meet the goals of Denmark, as Canada and Alberta are geographically different land masses and there are many different variables. However, I am implying that we Albertans need to meet our goals with the same ambition of Denmark. The Danes recognize the significance of of thinking in an environmental manner and bringing this level of excellence to all areas. Rather than capping oil reserves and large scale divestment, the Danes have made this ambitious mindset of sustainability generational. Thus, will continue to lead the world in the battle against climate change.  

The responses that environmentalists evoke - fear, anxiety, numbness, despair - are not helpful, even if they are understandable. It should be fascinating, even enthralling, to be in the milieu of environmental change.

— Paul Hawken

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