Denmark: What Do You Know About COP15’s Host Country?
As many know by now, COP15 is less than 6 weeks away. Come December, governments, businesses, organizations and people in general will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings of the Climate Change conference of the year. We all know that this big event is to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, but how many of you know much about Denmark itself?
I’ll bet it will surprise a lot of you to learn that from 2006 to 2008, Denmark was ranked the “happiest place on Earth”. That’s right, move over Disney World, the Danes have you beat for this title now. Of course, the ranking system was based on standards of health, welfare and education. This year, it ranked as the second most peaceful country in the world (following New Zealand), and it has also held the title for “least corrupt country in the world” in 2008.
You may be thinking, that’s all very well and good, but what of their environmental stance? They are hosting this big climate change event, after all. Well, according to America’s Reader Digest, they are ranked as the 10th greenest country in the world. They have the honor of being the first country ever to implement an environmental law in 1973; and they have also signed a number of international agreements, including the Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol and the Endangered Species Act. Denmark also has no known endangered species, although there are a few that are listed as “threatened” or “near threatened”, such as the polar bear, beluga (white) whale, harbor porpoise, pond bat and Eurasian otter.
I certainly can’t talk about Denmark without mentioning the host city as well: Copenhagen. This capital city has been acknowledged as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world. They have free bikes available for those who wish to decrease their carbon footprint and also the largest organic food market share in the world. They have been a receiver of the European Environmental Management Award for long-term holistic environmental planning, and they also have their own offshore wind farm.
Even though their environmental efforts and achievements are quite obvious, no one is perfect and they do have their own problems to worry about. Air pollution, nitrogen and phosphorous pollution of the North Sea; and contamination of drinking or surface water are ongoing issues that they face, but I’m sure they are working to fix those issues.
This is a country that proves you don’t have to be large, loud or extremely powerful to do something for the environment or make a name for yourself. With a total population less than those of Hong Kong, London or New York City, it’s amazing to see how much they have done already, and there’s no reason why more people and places of the world shouldn’t do the same. At the very least, I hope this article starts to give you a better understanding of this small country with a big purpose.
By Heidi Marshall