I gave a briefing of the Danish experiences to some of the faculty members at PR and Corporate Communications at Georgetown University yesterday. It was a part of their preparation for a roundtable meeting next week with Danish communications VPs on climate change and communications. Here is an extract of my notes:
Denmark is an Environmental Conscious Country
Since the oil crisis in the 1970s, Denmark has implemented a strict environmental policy which among other things has focused on renewable energy. In 2004, renewable energy accounted for 28% of the production of electricity. Denmark has also proven that a country can maintain economic growth and reduce dependency on fossil fuels at the same time.
Other notable initiatives and results are:
• Tax on energy consumption and waste plus water discharge
• 66% of all waste is recycled
• Reduced water consumption with 30% in the last 10 years
• Bathing water is clean
• Cars run on unleaded petrol
• 6% of the farm land is organically cultivated
Professionally, I have never been engaged in this debate and I am sure this the facts that we are proud of, but as with everything else we could probably do more to secure energy independence and reduce CO2 emissions.
Political Denmark on Climate Change
During the last couple of years, the Liberal-Conservative Government, led by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has engaged in the climate change debate. In February, the Prime Minister held a speech at the University of Copenhagen as part of the Copenhagen Climate Lectures. A bit to my surprise, he has fully adopted the views that are presented by the IPCC (UN Panel on Climate). This is further demonstrated by the creation of the Ministry of Climate and Energy (no English version) in November 2007.
Denmark is hosting COP15 in November/December 2009. The goal is to establish an ambitious climate agreement for the period from 2012. As part of the preparation for COP15 the Prime Minister is hosting roundtable discussions with key actors in the debate on climate change. For the first meeting, earlier this month, Harvard University made a memo debating the economic tools in a new global climate agreement on reducing CO2 emissions.
The Danish government has published Plan of Action for CSR (PDF) earlier this month. This is not a law, but the government is asking the Danish companies to work more efficiently with CSR. The Plan of Action includes that 1,000 of the biggest companies have to report every year on their work on SCR. The plan focuses on 4 areas and one of them is climate change. The goal is that corporate companies take responsibility in handling the global climate challenges by reducing the consumption of energy and CO2 emission and by developing global solutions to these problems.
Media Denmark on Climate Change
Another indicator of the rising interest in climate change is that the media has invested in this subject. Denmark has got its first climate reporters.
- Børsen (the Danish equivalent to Wall Street Journal) publishes every Wednesday a section called Climate, Environment, and Energy.
- Jyllands-Posten has established a website focusing on climate. Several years ago, the paper created an initiative called JP Explorer where the paper’s reporters are reporting from all over the world. This summer the expedition is visiting the Artic.
- Berlingske Tidende has also created a website where the Minister of Climate and Energy is blogging and politicians and experts are wikiing.
Corporate Denmark and Climate Change
I have noticed that climate change is also a hot issue in the communications business. The PR and Communications Association in Denmark has hosted a lot of meetings on climate and communications. But it was actually a bit hard to find more information about the Danish experiences on CSR, climate change and corporate communications.
Today, a friend of mine emailed me an article saying that companies like the Swedish IKEA has build a green platform years ago but they are not talking about it. It is the Scandinavian way of not telling consumers and the general public about your efforts. It is so obvious why you are doing it. So instead of green washing we are talking about green hushing. Is that what is going on?