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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ida Auken Former Danish Minister for the Environment Visits UMass

Ida Auken

On April 4, Ida Auken, the former Danish Minister for the Environment of Denmark, who led the department from 2011 to 2014, visited the University of Massachusetts Boston to give a formal lecture about her work in environmental stability.

The ministry, now formally called the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, was established a few years ago in 2015 when the Ministry of the Environment and The Ministry of Food decided to become one department. The ministry aims to take political initiatives regarding environmental protection and sustainable food production in Denmark. Auken’s lecture was sponsored by the Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston, a collaborative institute supported by the College of Management, College of Liberal Arts, the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global studies, and finally, the School for the Environment.
Auken comes from a politician’s family, a career she said she tried to avoid until she was 22.  

“I learned what climate change was about,” Auken explained Tuesday. Reportedly, it wasn’t until 1990 in Denmark that many people became more aware of environmental sustainability issues.  Confronting the controversial topic of climate change, Auken stated that many environmentalists today often find themselves facing difficulty in “appreciating” life while “protecting” life. Auken elaborated that this would be as if “you’re sitting in a taxi and  telling the driver, ‘I don’t want to go to the airport.’”

According to Auken, climate change is a simple problem with solutions that aren’t difficult to achieve. Auken stressed that affordability cleanliness, and sustainable methods of consumption and renewable energy are “better and safer for our kids” and the environment.

During Auken’s term as the minister, Auken stated to the audience that in furthering the environmental sustainability agenda, the more willing authorities were to collaborate and invest in ideas. Reportedly during Auken’s time, the Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark had many disagreements regarding the preservation of environmental protection and economic growth.

“I noticed, the stronger we made our agenda the more the Ministry of Business wanted to steal our ideas,” Auken said.

She continued, “This is the smart growth, these are the solutions that can keep growing, these are the answers to the problems businesses face today.”

Currently in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to statistics, up to 90 percent of energy investors in are using renewable energy resources including wind. Auken is also a member of the Danish Parliament for the Social Liberal Party and their spokesperson to further outline suggestions in maintaining renewable energy. During the lecture, Auken stated that the ministry’s and Auken plan by 2020 is to resource half of Denmark’s electricity from wind.
In recent years, Denmark has seen an increase in its right-wing populism. A member of the audience commented that wind-energy has failed to work in the US and result has gained more opposition than support as it also became increasingly expensive. With the inquiry, the member expressed concern as a citizen of both the US and Denmark, that there has been climate-change-denial in Denmark.
One member of the audience asked, “Is climate denial tied to the populist denial?”
Auken answered, “Populism is really driven by the loss of faith in politicians.” She continued, “Go out and talk to people. Don’t call them racist or sexist or white-trash, go talk to them.” 

Auken, who recently spoke at the Harvard Kennedy School, told the audience that she witnessed many who said that they have given up on politics.

“If you don’t have strong leaders, how are you going to have people believe?”