First female mayor of Danish municipality Frederikshavn wins EU Sustainable Energy Award for propelling town to climate neutrality by 2050
Birgit Hansen, Mayor of Frederikshavn, recognised by European Commission for her local leadership in climate planning
Today, Birgit Hansen was awarded the prestigious EU Sustainable Energy Award in the Woman in Energy category. European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, was on hand to congratulate the winners at the online awards ceremony which kicked off Day 1 of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW).
Commissioner Simson praised all five EUSEW Award winners commenting, "The projects and individuals that are being recognised today are not only leaders in transforming Europe’s energy landscape, they are role models. Their work is a testament to the importance of citizen engagement in making the European Green Deal a reality. We've been working hard to develop policy instruments, which guide and support action on the ground, and it is truly inspiring to see this vision at work. Together, we are bringing Europe closer to its climate goals.“
As mayor of Denmark's northernmost municipality, Birgit is recognised for her role in the city’s ambitious climate plan.
“My role as a mayor and as a leader is to motivate people to act on this agenda. I need to be at the forefront and bring together industry, citizens and the municipality to make things happen. We made partnerships within the municipality, so all actors who want to get involved in our green transformation can do so,” explains Birgit when discussing the role of leadership and climate action.
Frederikshavn will reduce its CO2 emissions by over 90% by 2050, according to its climate plan, which is championed by the city’s first female mayor, Birgit. Created in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the C40 Cities Climate Action Planning Framework, the plan is already successfully mobilising the community to achieve a zero-carbon society.
A trained nurse, Birgit entered politics in 2002 when she became counsellor of Sæby municipality, which later merged with Skagen and Frederikshavn to form the current municipality. Since being elected as mayor in 2014, Birgit has been fiercely driving a sustainability and climate agenda that serves the region's community of just over 60,000 inhabitants.
With her ambitious climate plan, Birgit aims to arrive at a reduction of the municipality's energy consumption by 3460.18 TJ, corresponding to 44.5% of the municipality's total gross energy consumption in 2018. This achievement would be coupled with an 87% increase in the share of renewable energy production compared to 2018. Moreover, Frederikshavn’s renewable energy action plan would reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 628,000 tonnes in 2030 - an equivalent of 91.1% of total CO2 emissions in 2018.
“Central to our climate plan is to support green growth, increase local employment and strengthen the competencies of local educational institutions. We hope that these actions will not only make carbon neutrality a reality for the municipality, but also create a place that both citizens and businesses want to move to,” says Birgit. “Already we have other companies and governments looking to Frederikshavn as a model.”
“One of our initiatives is to recycle surplus energy and heat thousands of households in the municipality this way. This would simply not be possible without Birgit Hansen,” explains Lene Krag of MAN Energy Solutions, one of the city’s main industrial partners. “Birgit is a role model for green solutions and sustainability. She is visible in the local business community and she recognises our challenges. She is the link between business and society.”
The municipality’s green transformation also aims to make a positive impact on people's everyday lives by creating 485 new permanent and 1,831 temporary jobs in the period from 2020-2030. Additionally, greater citizen involvement relating to climate action and preserving cultural heritage will be supported through various programmes. Birgit strives to improve the quality of life in the municipality through policies promoting renovation of residential properties, a cleaner local environment, forest creation and more biodiversity. In the near future, citizens of Frederikshavn are therefore more likely to live in comfortable, energy efficient homes and enjoy easier access to nature.
As the very first signatory of the European Covenant of Mayors Climate and Energy Agreement, which concerns 320 million European citizens, Birgit is committed to bringing Denmark and the EU closer to the 2030 targets.
Birgit Hansen was one of three finalists shortlisted for the EU Sustainable Energy Awards 2021 in the Woman in Energy category. The two other contenders were Dr. Karolina Lipińska and Mὸnica Guiteras Blaya.
About the EUSEW Awards
Twelve outstanding individuals and projects are highlighted at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2021 for their innovation in energy efficiency and renewables. Finalists were chosen from a list of the year’s most successful projects for clean, secure and efficient energy. The awards have four categories - Engagement, Innovation, Woman in Energy and Young Energy Trailblazer – as well as the Citizen’s Award. Prizes were awarded by an expert jury (for Engagement and Innovation), and by citizens via a public vote.
EUSEW 2021 runs from 25 to 29 October 2021, under the theme ‘Towards 2030: Reshaping the European Energy System’. Taking place ahead of the decisive COP 26, the event brings together energy policy experts, industry leaders, academia and civil society representatives to discuss how forward-looking policies for decarbonisation, energy efficiency, climate mitigation, and many others comprising the European Green Deal, can help rebuild a better and more resilient society and economy.
There is still time to attend EUSEW 2021! With more opportunities than ever to connect, engage, network and reflect on the biggest issues in clean energy in Europe and beyond. Media and participants can access the online event until 29 October.
For interview requests with the EUSEW 2021 Award winners, please contact [email protected]