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How an island in Denmark became carbon neutral

From the Springboard Content Lab
  • Søren Hermansen delivers keynote at Energy Innovation Forum 2023  in Moncton
  • Denmark Island becomes first in the world to go net zero
  • Community engagement is the key to making transition to green economy

In 1997, a small windy island in Denmark’s Kattegat Strait accepted a challenge to reduce its carbon footprint. Samsø, pop. 3,800, not only reduced its carbon footprint, it became the first island in the world to become carbon neutral. It has since become a global model for transitioning an economy to green.

The architect of this achievement – Søren Hermansen – delivered the keynote address during the Energy Innovation Forum in Moncton, NB, Oct. 31, 2023. Springboard is a sponsor.

Community building was key to green transition

Hermansen told an audience  of the Canadian renewables industry, government, universities and funding agencies how Samsø transitioned from coal and oil to renewable energy powered by wind turbines, solar panels and bio-mass heating.

He said that change required community participation. He built consensus through through extensive community engagement which involved residents in decisions and focused on the new jobs and social renewal that would occur with the transition to green.

Residents were given opportunities to invest in wind and solar energy. Oil-fired furnaces were traded for biomass heating systems.

Awards and recognition for Hermansen

Hermansen was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment.” In 2009, he received the Gothenborg Award, also know as the Nobel prize for the Environment.

He is now the Director of the Samsø Energy Academy which educates communities and groups around the world about transitioning to a sustainable economy.  The Academy hosts 6,000 visits a year from politicians, journalists and students from all over the world.

Springboard Atlantic is a proud sponsor of the Energy Innovation Forum 2023 which fosters collaboration across the Canadian renewable energy sector to accelerate the pace of change and unlock smart energy implementation.