Go to contents

[Op-Ed] Denmark’s Greenomics

Posted July. 01, 2009 04:41,   


The New Economic Foundation of Britain and Erasmus University of the Netherlands found in a survey that Denmark was the happiest country in 2006. Though Danish per capita income was 54,910 U.S. dollars, lower than those of Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway, the Danes said they feel far happier than people in the three richer nations. Koreans, whose per capita income was 19,690 dollars, ranked 103rd, lower than the Japanese (90th) and Chinese (82nd).

One factor promoting happiness in Denmark is bicycles, whose number exceeds that of the Danish population. The Danish royal family ride bicycles to shop and many lawmakers and ministers commute by bicycle. A dressed-up couple is shown biking to watch an opera. The use of bicycles reduces traffic jams and air pollution. Because of their avid biking, the Danes are also far thinner than people in other Western nations. To encourage the use of bicycles, the Danish government expanded bicycle lanes. A bicycle traffic signal is given ahead of that for motorized vehicles.

Korea’s ambassador for energy and resource cooperation, Shin Jae-hyun, says he considers Denmark and Iceland as nations with efficient energy policies. “The Danish model suggests the future for Koreans,” he said, implying the two European countries have well introduced “greenomics,” a system to improve quality of life and generate national wealth via green policies. Denmark imported 99 percent of its energy in 1973 when oil prices spiked. Over the past 20 years, however, it has introduced policies to save energy and substitute energy sources. It became an energy self-sufficient nation in 1997. Though its economy more than doubled over the same period, its energy consumption per capita stayed the same. In other words, Denmark raised its energy efficiency via a combination of its heat and power generation system, district heating, environment taxes and investment into renewable energies such as wind and solar power.

Korea can learn lesson from the Danish model, though it should not unconditionally emulate it given the Scandinavian country’s smaller population and unique geographical features. For example, Denmark has not generated nuclear power since 1985 but Korea has no choice but to strengthen its nuclear power generation. Despite the differences, Korea should learn from Denmark, which turned the energy crisis into opportunity and found a new growth engine in the environmental sector.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)