First female mayor of Denmark’s northernmost municipality propels town to climate neutrality by 2050
Birgit Hansen, Mayor of Frederikshavn, recognised for her role in the city’s ambitious climate plan announced as a finalist in the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Awards.
Danish municipality 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 Hansen. 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.
“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.
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.
Women paving the way for a sustainable energy future
Birgit Hansen is one of three finalists shortlisted for the EU Sustainable Energy Awards 2021 in the Woman in Energy category. The award recognises outstanding activities led by women that, if replicated, help to advance the clean energy transition in Europe and contribute to the European energy and climate targets. The two other contenders in the category are Dr. Karolina Lipińska and Mὸnica Guiteras Blaya.
Karolina is an innovation architect and the initiator of the Pomeranian Platform for the Development of Offshore Wind Energy in the Baltic Sea. Mὸnica is part of the EmpowerMed project which aims to alleviate energy poverty in the coastal areas of Mediterranean countries, with a particular focus on women.
EU Sustainable Energy Awards recognise champions of 2030 climate and energy targets
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, which will be received by one of the projects in the first two categories. Prizes will be awarded by an expert jury (for Engagement and Innovation), and by citizens via a public vote, which is now open until 22 October. The five winners will be announced on Monday 25 October during EUSEW 2021.
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.
EUSEW 2021 is held as an online event once again, with more opportunities than ever to connect, engage, network and reflect on the biggest issues in clean energy in Europe and beyond.
Registrations for participants and for media are now open.
For interview requests with the EUSEW 2021 Award finalists or additional media information, please contact [email protected]