Denmark’s relationship with Environmentalism is somewhat peculiar. Heralded as a nation with a vast amount of policies that protect their ecology, and tackle climate change from every political party. This will continue in this vain for many years, but what is peculiar about their relationship with environmentalism?

Denmark’s plan to be a fossil fuel-free nation by 2050 is backed up by ambitious policy framework. Before the oil crisis of the 1970s, they were dependent on imported oil.

Contradictions with Policy and Reality

The contradictions aren’t deliberate, they are claiming one idea and doing something different.

43 per cent of their electricity comes from renewable energy sources, and during 2011; clean technology firms employed approximately 34,000 people. Between 2004-2009, turnover in the clean tech industry was higher by 55 per cent as opposed to just 8 per cent in manufacturing. Within this same period clean tech exports rose by 77 per cent, again a significant increase compared to manufacturing which was just 12 per cent. One-third of clean technology companies saw more increases in both 2010 and 2011, whereas just 4 per cent saw a decrease in exports.

In addition to their clean technology 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 neighbours Sweden, France, and Switzerland in regards to their carbon footprint per capita. This 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.

Agricultural Farming: Cause and Effect

Some of the causes from agricultural farming come from pesticides and fertilisers. Because agriculture occupies some 60 per cent of Denmark’s area, the use of pesticides still exceeds national targets. They have also increased their forest area to 14.1 per cent, this has helped lead to the decrease of nitrogen in the air.

Denmark have a high level of export when it comes to meat, particularly pork products. Keeping livestock leads to higher emissions due to new technology and the amount kept in smaller spaces. Also, they are fed unnatural diets and sent to a slaughterhouse, and this directly leads to more pollution.

Agricultural pollution has more than just environmental effects, but also the health-related issues to the population. Chemicals from fertilisers and pesticides make their way to groundwater, and health related problems can occur from it ending up in drinking water. 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.

Fertilisers, 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 is detrimental to the eco-system.

A Large Eco-Footprint

Despite being a leading provider in clean technology, and a leading country in radical solutions to climate change. They still have some way to go themselves, whilst 43 per cent of their electricity comes from other sources of renewable energy. Denmark have a large eco-footprint, due to agricultural farming.

Their clean technology industry is thriving, and leading the way in efficiency but the pollution levels of their cities are still unacceptable. Especially where they want to be. However, they have a plan in place and the framework to be fossil fuel-free nation by 2050. Other nations should follow this ideology, and embrace radical change in the same vain.