ABL in Denmark

Paul Francisco, JC Morales, Makeeba McCreary, Duane Jackson, Alex Richman, Kelsey Edmond, Bob Chen, Jim Boyle, David Nagahiro

What we came to learn

The Barr Foundation pursues three strategies to address climate change:

  1. Accelerating the shift to clean energy
  2. Transforming our transportation system 
  3. Creating climate resilient communities

The Alliance for Business Leadership and UMass Boston were fortunate to partner with the Barr Foundation on the creation of an experience designed to bring together business and academic leaders to view what is possible for Massachusetts primarily focusing on strategy number one, how Massachusetts can accelerate the shift to clean energy.

Our diverse delegation represented various sectors of the Massachusetts economy including healthcare, finance, and development. We set out to understand how Denmark has inspired an entire country to decarbonize, become more efficient, and embrace the beauty and lifestyle of resilience in every setting. We learned about much more than the public policy, funding, and projected net-zero timeline (as if that weren’t enough). We repeatedly heard and saw that the Danish economy and workforce has not only survived, but thrived, under this ambitious policy.

What we observed

We saw the Danes living their everyday life, primarily on bike and foot. We used intensive bike infrastructure and walking paths that were often busier than the roadways. Large areas of the city of Copenhagen had no street side parking or didn’t allow cars at all.

The Danes ski and climb on a waste to energy plant called Copenhill, they have replaced vehicle parking with bicycle parking (so many bikes!!), and restaurants and bars often use cloth towels in restrooms rather than paper. The locals are incredibly informed about Denmark’s efforts and believe in it. They do not question the science, but rather see it as their responsibility to save the planet and share what they have learned.