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Danish environment minister endorses 'circular economy'

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Published : 2017-03-20 17:49
Updated : 2017-03-20 17:52

Denmark is a front-runner in the “circular economy,” a holistic industrial paradigm geared toward maximizing productivity and minimizing pollution.

As an antidote to the “linear economy,” which produces vast excesses of goods and wastes, the circular economy feeds off a virtuous cycle of production, consumption and recreation by “recycling, restoring and reusing” energy and waste.

Denmark outshines other European Union counterparts on many sustainability metrics, such as the share of renewable energy and index of ecological innovation. With the world changing tack to embrace the low carbon economy and sustainable development, Denmark and Korea can become partners in unlocking the groundbreaking economy’s potential, according to a Danish politician. 

Danish Minister of Environment and Food Esben Lunde Larsen (right) and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology President Shin Sung-chul (Danish Embassy)

“The circular economy is both a challenge as well as opportunity facing the world,” said Danish Minister of Environment and Food, Esben Lunde Larsen, in Seoul on March. 9. “If properly implemented, it can deliver key environmental benefits and at the same time strengthen our businesses and create jobs,” he added, citing Danish firms Maerk Line, Arla and Plastix that have incorporated the model.

Larsen was speaking at a seminar at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s Graduate School of Green Growth, designed to explore cooperation in clean innovation. Danish Ambassador to Korea Thomas Lehmann, European Union Ambassador-designate Michael Reiterer, Norwegian Deputy Head of Mission Marianne Damhaug, as well as 80 scholars and students of the school were in attendance.

Provided the two countries join hands, the triple goals of a cleaner environment, richer economy and more equitable use of energy are within reach in a few years, he argued.

“We must change our ways as consumers and citizens,” he stressed. “The circular economy is about recycling materials and products. We can share goods and buy access to services rather than owning them.”

Transitioning toward the fledgling economy can deliver more innovation and economic resiliency and productivity, according to State of Green, Denmark’s public agency for green growth. Based on studies by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it forecast the Danish economy would grow by an additional 0.8 to 1.4 percent, create an extra 7,000 to 13,000 jobs and increase net exports by 3 to 6 percent, while reducing carbon footprint by 3 to 7 percent.

Conceding the model remains peripheral in the world economy, Larsen emphasized “mainstreaming it is a target we must reach.”

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com) 

Participants at the seminar at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s Graduate School of Green Growth included Danish Ambassador to Korea Thomas Lehmann (front, right) and European Union Ambassador-designate Michael Reiterer (front, left). (Danish Embassy)