Will Osborne let us reach the renewable heights of Europe?

Pascoe Sabido

17 October 2012

For me, Denmark will forever be the land of the wind turbine and general green greatness.

I recently spent 4 days there plotting with European policy makers and parliamentarians how we can create a 100% Renewable Europe.

Happening just across the water

It was amazing to hear what other countries, regions, cities and villages are already doing to move away from dirty fossil fuels. 

But I have to admit feeling a little embarrassed about being British - as our anti-green chancellor, George Osborne, keeps trying to stop us joining in the fun.

Jühnde is Germany’s first self-sufficient bioenergy village. It supplies all residents with their heat and electricity needs from locally-grown plants. The community-controlled cooperative has been so successful, it’s sparked a nation-wide trend.

And in Flanders, Belgium, renewable energy cooperative EcoPower is providing green affordable energy to over 4,000 of its members, while helping other energy cooperatives across the region get set up.

Building a green future

The venue where we met, the Folkecenter (pictured), was also incredibly inspiring - a living, breathing incarnation of one-planet living. It’s built into the side of a hill. But unlike the home of Bilbo Baggins and his fellow hobbits, it’s surrounded by all manner of pioneering renewable technology, built over the years to show the Danish government – and the world – that the technology does work.

Is that a giraffe? Nope, just another wind turbine

Inspiration was everywhere: waking at sunrise (not something that comes naturally) you could see wind turbines glinting on the horizon like big metal giraffes that took a wrong turn at watering hole.

Various turbine models pop-up across the countryside, mainly installed by communities - with the help of their government - as an alternative to oil and nuclear power.

Can we play too?

On the way home I couldn’t help feeling like we in the UK are missing out. It wasn’t just that other countries were doing so much more than us; it was the way communities elsewhere have been helped to take part – although luckily for Wales and Scotland they’re doing much better than England.

Not only do local people share the benefits (profits, employment), but everyone feels part of the vision for a 100% renewable future. It’s what Friends of the Earth is campaigning for through its Clean British Energy campaign.

Maybe it should have been our chancellor rather than me going to Denmark.

Pascoe Sabido, International Climate team

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