By James Clasper
A dozen children are sitting in a circle when the bell rings. Instead of rushing to their next class, the children close their eyes.
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Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.
On Wednesday, Danish energy company Orsted announced a major investment program as it seeks to become one of the "renewable majors" leading a global shift away from planet-warming fuels, Reuters reported.
Copenhagen Mayor Wants to Phase Out Diesel Cars: 'It's Not a Human Right to Pollute the Air for Others'
"It's not a human right to pollute the air for others," Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen told Danish newspaper Politiken (via The Local DK's translation). "That's why diesel cars must be phased out."
Other than the one male wolf that was spotted wandering the Jutland peninsula in 2012, the country's last verified wild wolf sighting was in 1813, Peter Sunde, a senior researcher at Aarhus University, told Newsweek.
Denmark offshore wind giant DONG Energy won the rights last week to build two new wind farms in the German North Sea without any government subsidies. The move represents a major milestone for the offshore wind industry, which has relied on support from European governments.
Denmark generated 97 gigawatt-hours (GWh) from wind energy Feb. 22, enough to meet the entire country's electricity needs. According to Wind Europe, 70 GWh came from onshore wind and 27 GWh came from offshore wind, which is enough to power "the equivalent of 10 million average EU households."
By Mike Gaworecki
The eleven-year-old C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group brings together officials from 85 of the world's great cities that collectively represent one quarter of the global economy. The group's focus is spurring urban initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the health, well-being and economic opportunity of the more 650 million people who call those 85 cities home.
Sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Chinese green-tech developer BYD, the C40 Cities Awards recognized the "best and boldest" work being done by mayors to fight climate change and protect their constituents from climate risks.
"The winning projects show that great progress is being made on every continent, and they serve as an inspiration to other cities," C40 President of the Board and U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement. "They also show how cities can help the world meet the ambitious goals set a year ago in Paris."
A panel of former mayors and climate experts selected the ten cities that they felt had adopted the most ambitious and effective urban sustainability programs in the world—and C40 partnered with the Associated Press to capture images of each winning city's projects, allowing you a sneak peek whether you live near one of them or not.
"Today, we celebrate some of the projects that are key to delivering on the world's climate ambition and will help put us on a path to a carbon-safe future," Chuanfu Wang, chairman and president of BYD Co. Ltd, said at the awards ceremony. "We recognise the incredible human power and thoughtful consideration that goes into making these projects reality."
1. Addis Ababa, Ethiopa
The city of Addis Ababa is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Transportation Category. The Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project has improved the city's public transport system and created more than 6,000 jobs. The cumulative emission reduction potential of the LRT system is forecasted at 1.8 million tCO2e by 2030.
A lady holding her baby wrapped in a white shawl is transported on an Addis Ababa LRT. Mulugeta Ayene / AP Images for C40
An Addis Ababa Light Rail Tram passes through Ethiopia's largest business district Merakto. Mulugeta Ayene / AP Images for C40
Pedestrians look out over commercial and residential buildings on the city skyline. Nearby an Addis Ababa light rail tram passes by.Mulugeta Ayene / AP Images for C40
Sweden's Vattenfall set a world record for the lowest price ever paid for offshore wind power. The state-owned energy company bid EUR 49.9 (or $54) per megawatt-hour to develop the Danish Kriegers Flak, a 600-megawatt offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea, about 15 kilometers off the Danish island Møn. Kriegers Flak. For comparison, the average cost of offshore wind is around $126 per megawatt-hour.
Kriegers Flak, the world's first offshore electricity 'Supergrid'Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
The Kriegers Flak is set for operations by 2022 and will be Denmark's largest offshore wind farm. The farm will be able to supply 600,000 households with renewable energy, or 23 percent of all Danish households.
As a pioneer in wind power, having installed its first turbines in the mid-1970s, Denmark's latest renewable energy project puts the country on track to meet its 2020 goal of getting 50 percent of its power from renewables. The nation plans to ditch fossil fuels entirely by 2050.
“The announcement is an essential milestone for our ambition to increase our production of renewable power," Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall said. "We are already the second largest offshore player globally. The winning bid of EUR 49.9 per megawatt-hour proves that Vattenfall is highly competitive and brings down the costs for renewable energy."
Kriegers Flak, expected for operation by 2022, is a 600 megawatt offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea.Vattenfall
Vattenfall has now won tenders for three major offshore wind farms—Horns Rev 3, Danish Near Shore and Kriegers Flak. The company invested between 1.1–1.3 billion EUR in Kriegers Flak, pending a final investment decision.
"Our winning bid for Kriegers Flak is 58 percent below the original cap of EUR 0.12. For the Danish Near Shore project the bid was also substantially below its cap," Vattenfall head Gunnar Groebler said. "Proceeding with these two projects, Vattenfall provides Denmark with a cost efficient contribution to meet the country's climate targets and customers's demand for renewable energy."
Denmark's newest offshore wind farm will be constructed in a 132-square-kilometer area in the Baltic Sea, an area that will be home to the world's first "Supergrid." The area actually consists of three sections dedicated to wind power development in Germany, Sweden and Denmark.
The Supergrid will ideally supply cheap renewable energy to a large swath of European consumers and enable electricity trading between individual countries—all while decreasing Europe's need for imported fossil fuels. The idea is that it's always windy somewhere.
#Denmark Just Set Yet Another World Record for #Wind Power https://t.co/jiK3ZstfUW @climatereality @350 @greenpeace https://t.co/f9PoXcgPpC— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1453218142.0
"In close partnership with their regional neighbors, Sweden and Germany, the Kriegers Flak area in the Baltic Sea, has been chosen as the first place in the world to have an offshore electricity grid," Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website boasts. "The planned 600 megawatt offshore wind farm will act like a 'Supergrid,' eventually being able to transmit renewable energy through power grids to all three countries.
"The 'Supergrid' would serve three purposes: Bring renewable energy to European consumers, strengthen regional energy markets and increase the security of supply by providing transmission capacity."
According to a Vattenfall press release, the Swedish part of Kriegers Flak has a building permit that expires in 2018 and the German part has not yet been tendered.
By Kelly McCartney
Leave it to Germany to build a bicycle autobahn that connect 10 cities within its borders. The goal? To take some 50,000 vehicles off the actual highways and make commuting by bike a much easier—and safer—proposition.
The idea was sparked six years ago when a cultural project caused the one-day closure of the road between Duisburg and Dortmund and more than three million people flooded the road on bikes, skates and feet. Last December, Germany's first stretch of bike highway opened for business between Mülheim an der Ruhr and Essen. Eventualy, the Radschnellweg will link 10 cities and four universities with 62 miles of bike highway.
The bikeways—and parallel pedestrian paths—are completely separated from the vehicle lanes, with a 13-foot width, tunnels, lights and snow clearing because safety and accessibility issues are two of the biggest obstacles to biking. Coupled with Europe's blossoming affection for electric bikes and Germany's limited proximity between cities, the Radschnellweg stand to attract a new wave of pedal-powered commuters. Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Nuremberg are also undertaking bike-related feasibility studies in order to curb traffic and pollution in those urban areas.
Of course, the Germans are only the latest to enter the bike highway fray. The Netherlands started building their 20-strong network of bikeways 10 years ago and continue to expand it, while Denmark focused their efforts on Copenhagen. Norway will soon be getting in on the action too with bikeways connecting nine cities.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Shareable.
By Nicole D'Alessandro
Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute. Usage varies widely among countries, from more than 400 a year for many East Europeans, to just four a year for people in Denmark and Finland. Plastic bags, made of depletable natural gas or petroleum resources, are often used only for a matter of minutes. Yet they last in the environment for hundreds of years, shredding into ever-smaller pieces but never fully breaking down.
Little did I know after being invited by Sustainia to participate in a climate symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark, that I'd have the opportunity to visit Samso, the first island in the world to be completely powered by renewable energy.
At the climate event, I sat next to Soren Hermansen, director of Samso's Energy Academy and mastermind behind the transformation of his hometown, as the group discussed new ways to communicate the seriousness of global warming in anticipation of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that will be released this October.
I shared with Hermansen my desire to visit Samso, as I wanted to see firsthand the progress the island has made since implementing their master plan more than 16 years ago. Within an hour, after several emails were exchanged, plans were set for me to spend one night and one day touring the island later that week.
After a couple hour train ride from Copenhagen to Kalunborg, I boarded a ferry and arrived in Samso two hours later. I was met by Jesper Roug Kristensen, Samso Energy Academy's business accounting and development manager. Already aware that Kristensen was a generous man, as he offered to host me at his family's beautiful home, I was still pleasantly surprised by the incredible dinner and breakfast offered to me, and the following day's itinerary that was arranged so I could meet the many people who have contributed to making Samso a world leader in sustainability.
The next day began with Kristensen providing an overview of Samso's 10 year Renewable Energy Island Project while we ate homemade bread and jam, local cheese, fresh squeezed organic orange juice and of course espresso. The project began after Denmark's Minister for the Environment—Svend Auken—returned from the Kyoto Climate Talks in Japan, enthusiastic about his country reducing its carbon emissions. In 1997, Auken announced a competition asking local communities or islands to present the most realistic and realizable plan for a 100 percent transition to self-sufficiency through renewable energy. Four islands and one peninsula participated in the competition. In October of that year, Samso was announced the winner and received funding by the Danish Energy Authority to formulate the details of their master plan.
Ten years later, Samso was generating more electricity from renewable energy than it consumed, mainly from 11 onshore and 10 offshore wind turbines, totaling 34 megawatts. Samso's CO2 footprint is negative 12 tons per inhabitant, which includes the 10 offshore turbines that were built to compensate for carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The average CO2 footprint in Denmark is 10 tons per inhabitant. If the offshore turbines were not included, the Samso footprint would be 4.5 tons per inhabitant. Samso's longterm goal is to be a fossil free island, phasing out oil, gas and coal by 2030.
After listening to Kristensen for nearly an hour, it was clear that the success of the island project was based on its bottom up approach. Nine of the 11 onshore wind turbines were bought by farmers, and the remaining two bought by more than 500 people who live on the island or have summer homes there. Each 1 megawatt wind turbine powers approximately 630 homes.
Ten, 2.3 megawatt offshore wind turbines were installed more than two miles south of Samso to offset the CO2 emissions from the transportation sector on the island, including cars, ferries and farming equipment. Five of the offshore wind turbines were purchased by the Samso municipality, three by Samso farmers and two by an investment company selling smaller shares to stakeholders.
Ownership of the wind turbines by locals made them an integral part of the project and helped contribute to the success of the master plan. Samso has become a global example of how to create a sustainable community through local ownership and community engagement.
After one more espresso, we were off to visit one of the onshore wind turbines owned by a local farmer.
“We are now standing here in front of Jorgen Tranberg's private wind turbine. He's a big farmer, but if you ask him if he's a farmer, he says 'No, I'm an energy producer.' He also has a lot of solar cells on his roof," said Kristensen.
Kristensen detailed how the 11 onshore wind turbines were placed democratically, so if the turbines needed to be moved a little to the right or a little to the left to make everyone in the community happy, that's what they did. They had a lot of coffee together, and sometimes beer, to discuss how their island could implement renewable energy and other sustainability initiatives. The approach was to ensure buy-in from all the locals, and it worked.
Tranberg grows corn, raises cattle and produces biomass for the local district's heating plants. He delivers straw to the plants on contract, instead of burning it in his fields. The transition to local heating plants provided additional income to farmers and reduced overall carbon emissions by making a waste by-product a commodity for the farmer.
Tranberg also grows potatoes, which are called Samso Gold. Potatoes are a basic crop of Samso, especially when farmers grow first crop potatoes under plastic and harvest them just two months after planting. The potatoes are then sold to restaurants in Copenhagen for around 1,000 Danish Kroner per kilo ($185 USD), making a very nice income for the potato farmer.
I enjoyed seeing where these Samso Gold potatoes were grown, as I had been told at a restaurant in Copenhagen, “You haven't had a potato until you've had a Samso potato."
The next stop was to one of the four district heating plants. Three of the heating facilities use straw, a by-product of growing barley, and one uses wood chips from local forests in Samso combined with solar thermal panels used to heat water. One plant is owned by 240 households, one by a private farmer and two by the energy company NRGi. Conversation is underway regarding the ownership model of the district plants with thoughts on new heating concepts that would combine straw and solar power with heating pumps. These plants would use less straw, thereby providing the opportunity to build a new biogas plant that would fuel cars and a new gas ferry that will soon be available in addition to the diesel-powered ferry.
"This local district heating plant was established in 2004 and 2005, costing around 16 million Danish Kroner, or $2.9 million USD. They are using straw as the main resource for heating. Each straw block weighs about 600 kilos [1,300 pounds], which is the equivalent to 200 liters [53 gallons] of oil. So instead of sending the money down to Saudi Arabia, we actually keep the money here in Samso. It's a better solution for the locals," shared Kristensen as he stood in front of a mountain of straw.
"This plant uses around 1,200 tons per year and services 240 homes. It is owned by the community."
Our next stop was an organic produce farm. Though the majority of crops grown on the island are conventional—using a significant amount of pesticides—there's a growing movement towards organically grown produce, dairy products and grains.
Kristensen took me to the organic farm Okologiske Grontsager (translation: ecological vegetables), which is run by Johannes Find Loeb and Rasmus Lund Jensen. Loeb and Jensen recently finished organic farming school and were given the opportunity to rent this 35 acre farm, which has been organic since 1987.
Loeb and Jensen received a warm welcome when they arrived in Samso as there's great concern regarding the next generation of farmers. The population of Samso has been decreasing every year with a current count of 3,750 year-round residents. Kristensen said it's refreshing to see young people on the island working to improve the soil and becoming part of Samso's sustainability initiatives.
The plan is for the land to be bought by a foundation to ensure it will remain organic and provide opportunities for younger generations to farm. Due to the high cost of farms, it's almost impossible for new generations to take over. This new ownership model is being developed to attract new generations to grow organic food.
Loeb and Jensen are using 125 different varieties of seeds. They plan to sell their produce to stores in Aarhus, a city on the mainland northwest of Samso, and to local Samso restaurants. They will also have a vegetable stand near the harbor to sell produce to the 75,000 tourists that visit Samso from June to August.
We stopped for lunch at the Energy Academy where Kristensen and Hermansen work. The Energy Academy functions as a conference center where companies, scientists and politicians can come to discuss renewable energy, energy savings and new technologies, and learn firsthand how Samso successfully implemented their 10-year renewable energy plan combined with its current focus of becoming a fossil free island by 2030.
Inspiration is felt on many different levels at the Energy Academy. In addition to a wealth of information to help ignite the most elaborate sustainability plans, the building itself eloquently showcases green building principles. It has a natural ventilation system and uses rainwater to flush toilets and provides hot water through a small thermal solar system. Walls and windows are highly insulated to minimize energy consumption and the building is heated by the local straw-based district heating plant. All electric appliances are A-class energy savers, the electric lighting is low energy and the windows are positioned to maximize passive solar energy. Electricity is supplied by a battery of PV solar cells, supplemented by Samso grid electricity, which for the most part is delivered by the island wind turbines.
We lunched with a group of people who live on several different islands surrounding Finland that was visiting the Energy Academy to learn from the experiences of Samso in hopes of implementing similar plans back home.
While eating another delicious meal, I learned about the many challenges faced in Finland to gain support for renewable energy projects. After coffee and dessert, Kristensen quickly showed me the rest of the Energy Academy and we were on our way to another local farm.
"My husband is a fourth generation farmer. He has been a farmer for many years and has been an organic farmer since 2002. He makes wheat for bread production," said Ida C. Holst who toured us around her farm where they grow wheat, rye and oats.
"This windmill is ours. My husband was one of a few farmers that had the possibility of getting his own windmill. He saw it as a very good investment."
Their company, Samso Mel, sells organic flour to retail outlets and restaurants on the island. They recently began selling their products direct to consumers via their website and to other parts of Denmark.
On our drive from Samso Mel, we quickly stopped at one of the city buildings where they have a 120 kilowatt solar carport that powers electrical vehicles owned by the Samso municipality.
Next, I met Bent Degn Aage Mikkelsen who produces organic cheese and butter on his dairy farm on the south end of the island. He makes three different types of cheese and sells it to restaurants, especially in the summer when the tourists flock to the island.
I met with Mikkelsen at the Oekologisk Samso (translation: Samso Eco-Store) where his dairy products are sold along with other sustainable products from around the island. The eco-store is in the center of town and owned by a unique community of farmers and consumers. Monthly meetings are held at this location to educate community members about the importance of organic products and sustainability initiatives underway.
The idea of Organic Samso, where organic farmers from the island and outside experts established a common agricultural fund, was born at one of these meetings in the fall of 2012 in collaboration with the Energy Academy.
The main objective of the fund is to purchase the Okologiske Grøntsager farm so that it can be rented by organic farmers and increase the availability of organic food on the island, while also creating green jobs and increasing the Samso population.
In the winter of 2013, the project was expanded to include organic consumers, personal gardeners and sustainable living communities.
The last official stop was to the Samso Golf Club. Kristensen, an avid golfer, was very much looking forward to showing me all the sustainability initiatives at the local golf course.
First I had a look at the solar powered lawn mower, which I later got to drive. We were toured around on electric golf carts by the manager of the grounds, Greenkeeper Thomas Pihlkjaer. He explained how they use seaweed liquid extract instead of chemical fertilizers and are experimenting with different types of clover. The clover captures nitrogen from the air thereby fertilizing the grass. No irrigation is needed, so the grass stays green even during drought, and no herbicides are needed as the clover out-competes weeds.
The 3.4 kilowatt solar system powers a pump to bring water to other parts of the golf course for irrigation. The old pumps at the golf course have been replaced by new modern pumps saving an estimated 30 percent of electricity.
With just a little time left before I needed to board the ferry, Kristensen took me to a beautiful park, Stavns Fjord Fredning Og Vildtreservat (translation: Stavns Fjord Wildlife and Nature Reserve), and we visited the island's lighthouse.
For only spending 20 hours on Samso, I clearly got to see a lot. Thanks to Kristensen for touring me around the island and introducing me to the many people working to make Samso one of the world's most sustainable communities. The Samso Energy Academy is a beacon for the rest of the world, illustrating how we can create sustainable communities through local ownership and local engagement.
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You are in a not so distant future. From where you are sitting on your couch, your life looks the same. But at a closer look, things have changed a bit. First of all, the couch is not exactly yours. You rent it from a furniture company until you’re ready for an update.
Thinking of it, many of my machines and utilities are rented—or borrowed. Owning stuff only drags you down. You would much rather borrow, as you can change your couch or your wardrobe as often as you like without it being shown on your wallet.
Lately though, you have also started fixing things yourself. As part of a growing online community, you have access to all sorts of repair-manuals that makes it quick and easy to fix the record player or change the smart phone screen. And when you need that power drill you only use once a year you borrow it through another online community service of which you have membership. Here you can borrow stuff from your neighbors—saves on the budget as well as space.
You don’t shop much. As you are part of a local food service, you receive a wooden box of produce from local farms every week. This guarantees you fresh produce with as little transportation as possible. Every Thursday, you eat a festive dinner in your neighborhood, where local members of the service get together and cook meals with leftover food before it goes bad. When you do shop, a sensor-based app on your mobile tells you what is in your fridge. This way you use what you got and buy only what you need. The app also suggests recipes with the supplies in your fridge. A lifesaver in that inspiration-dry shopping hour after a long workday.
Speaking of work, when you rush out the door in the morning, a driver-less car pulls up at your front door at a scheduled hour and drops you off near the office. It continues straight to the next pick-up saving you the hassle of parking. The best thing about this service though is the priority lanes that guarantee you to glide through traffic at any given hour.
And this is where you can open your eyes and stop imagining. None of these descriptions are science fiction or make believe. Every single part of this resource-friendly scenario is readily available and already happening around us.
Three trends not to miss
The extraordinary solutions that have been shooting up over the last decade are not just minimizing our waste, but also viewing it as a resource with several lives. We are seeing innovation rapidly creating opportunities that we thought impossible years ago. Just think of the possibilities the 3D printer is presenting. Print the things you need instead of buying 30 plugs, when you only need one. Collectively, these solutions have inspired governments and cities to start dreaming of a low waste society. Some even dream of a zero waste society. And since we have the tools, why not?
In order for any city or nation to achieve this vision, three mega-trends in the waste and resource area have to not only scale, but also merge. First, is the way we design our products. We have to become better at creating products for recycling. This means designing devices so parts can easily be taken out and replaced. Often only one or two components are broken, but we throw out the entire device. Everyone who cracked a smart phone screen and ended up with a new model knows what I’m talking about.
We must get in the mindset of not throwing out entire devices, when only a few percent are damaged. We are seeing this trend gain grounds as companies successfully reshape a business model, where returned devices are used fully as production resources, thereby saving on budgets.
This makes way for the next trend: Supporting, designing and enhancing return systems. They do exist today, but moving forward it should be easier for citizens and corporations to return used devices or the parts of a broken device that are still in good shape. We need to see user-friendly recycling initiatives on more and more services and products. Not just to minimize trash, but also to prolong the life of valuable materials that in time will be exhausted. Imagine if we didn’t throw away our IKEA furniture every time we moved or they broke but could return it to the nearest store that then recycled and reused the materials.
The final trend is the sharing economy. The concept of renting and sharing is spreading from the private sphere into the corporate, where it saves on budgets and limits full-scale investments. This sharing economy is creating new and stronger relations between citizens, communities, corporations and public services where everyone benefits from an optimal utilization of resources.
Imagine, for example, that you could buy annual memberships at your favorite clothing store, which allowed you to borrow x number of items a year instead of buying-to-own and over the years stocking up on items you never wear. More people could enjoy each garment, you saved money and the company was guaranteed a fixed revenue stream.
Who is first to go zero waste?
These trends are all in their early stage. It takes a targeted effort to not only grow them, but also start to merge the ideas of design for reuse, gearing systems to value waste as a resource and, on top of this, developing a mentality that is open to sharing the resources, devices, machines, etc. Nevertheless, there lies a new reality in the intersection of the three, where waste will become resources and a means to sustain our daily living.
There are plenty of benefits in pursuing the implementation and growth of the three trends. As a result, more and more cities and nations are accompanying their low-carbon policies with waste-free initiatives. One of them is my native country of Denmark that has released a roadmap for how to become waste-free. There is hesitation in putting a final year on the achievement, but the milestones are articulated. By 2022, 50 percent of the trash produced in private Danish homes must be recycled. In addition, Scotland, Holland and parts of the U.S. are putting impressive waste management plans in place.
These are necessary, but also realistic, plans. However, they will only succeed if we manage to inspire communities to act and not force new initiatives down their throats. The key to success no doubt lies in creating an inspiring vision we all want to follow. In other words, the first nation to go zero waste will be the one that excites its citizens and corporations, and makes them confident that a zero waste future will be convenient, inspiring and fun.
Be inspired by concrete solutions that will take us to a sharing economy in the Sustainia100, such as Neighborgoods and Real-Time ridesharing app, and by solutions that empower communities to repair broken items, such as iFixit and Clothes Swapping Parties.
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