Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why Are Nordic People So Happy?

Perhaps one explanation is that Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark are all rapidly transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy so their citizens can breathe clean air and know they are playing an important role in dealing with the climate crisis.

At least that was one possible reason given at a recent panel discussion at the Capitol Visitor Center hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the Nordic Council titled "Shaping a Low-Carbon World: Lessons From Nordic Countries."

The panelists included Fridtjof Unander, Director of Energy and Petroleum, Research Council Norway; Jes Brinchmann Christensen, Managing Director, Danish Board of District Heating (DBDH); Mikael M√∂ller, Head of Industrial Policy, Swedish Plastics and Chemicals Federation; Pekka Sauri, Deputy Mayor, City of Helsinki, Finland; and Gudni A. J√≥hannesson, Director General, National Energy Authority of Iceland.

Moderator Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post, provided the following facts about each country:
  • Sweden -- Was one of the first countries in the world to introduce a tax on carbon dioxide in 1981 and it applies to both households and industry. Sweden has a vision to be carbon neutral by 2050. They are really focusing on the transportation sector with the goal of increasing the share of renewables to 10% by 2020 and have a car fleet that is independent of fossil fuels by 2030.
  • Finland -- One of its primary sources of renewable energy include bioenergy like wood and wood-based fuels as well as hydropower, ground heat and solar energy. Its goal is to increase its share of renewables to 38% by 2020 and aims to cut its emissions by at least 80% from the 1990 level by 2050.
  • Norway -- It is the sixth largest hydropower producer and is going to overfulfill its commitment under the Kyoto Treaty by 10% by cutting 30% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the 1990s by 2020. Norway aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.
  • Denmark -- Known for its wind power, today Denmark is energy independent and between a quarter and 30% of its electricity comes from wind.
  • Iceland -- Gets 82% of its energy needs from domestic renewable sources. It is known for its geothermal energy. Today about 97% of households in Iceland have access to geothermal district heating.
Here is video of the full presentation:

Shaping a Low-Carbon World: Lessons from Nordic Countries from Laura Parsons on Vimeo.

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