Copenhagen is international front-runner in reducing meat consumption

Over the past years, plantbased foods and diets have become increasingly popular in Scandinavia.The City of Copenhagen is taking action towards reducing CO2-emission of the public meals. Smaller cities are hesitant to follow the capital’s example. 

Over the past years, plantbased foods and diets have become increasingly popular in Scandinavia.The City of Copenhagen is taking action towards reducing CO2-emission of the public meals. Smaller cities are hesitant to follow the capital’s example. Photo: Emma Sennels

by Ignacia Baudrand & Emma Sennels

With young environmental activists like Greta Thunberg and the ‘Fridays For Future’ movement, climate change has been heavily discussed both locally and internationally across the globe.

In Denmark, a long-time agrarian society, they are also on trend. The new government with social democrat and prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, in the lead has set for a much more green and climate friendly agenda.

As part of an effort to live up to the UN’s Paris Agreement, Copenhagen is looking upon lowering meat consumption.

A new food- and meal strategy for the 70,000 meals which are produced and distributed daily to the schools, kindergartens, and elderly homes of Copenhagen shall reduce CO2 emission in the city and benefit the climate. The City of Copenhagen states this in a press release.

Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen(S), tells TV2 Lorry that he is proud of the initiative:

“We guarantee healthier meals and more organic food to the children, young people and elderly of Copenhagen. At the same time we reduce the food waste and carbon footprint.”

Watch the video below for a detailed run through the meal strategy:

But how does it look in the rest of the country?

In Odense, the fairytale city of Denmark and native town of writer Hans Christian Andersen, they also have made plans to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Local member of the right wing party Alternativet, Peer Locher, believes it would be a great but rather difficult task to regulate the use of meat in the city. Furthermore he concludes by saying:

“The citizens should have the freedom of choice as to whether they want meat in their meals – this should not be dictated by the council.”

In Odense politicians are actually working on lowering emissions, but this in terms of coal power. 

Claus Horden, member of Odense City Council for the liberal party Venstre, explains how they are working on phasing out the power plant in the city before 2025, where the national goal to outphase coal power is 2030.

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/meat-production

In Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, the City Council has set ambitious goals for the city to become CO2 neutral as soon as 2030. 

But the City Council does not necessarily know better than the citizens, according to City Council member, Hans Skou from Venstre, liberal party. He believes the citizens should have the freedom to choose meat over plant based foods and vice versa.

Furthermore, Aarhus has become the world’s first wind made certified municipality. This involves a minimum of 25 pct. Of the electrical power used by the Municipality of Aarhus coming from wind energy. 

Ango Winther, socialdemocratic member of Aarhus City Council, also believes in the green agenda and that it is the duty of the council to reduce the consumption of meat. 

Critics of the Copenhagen meal plan strategy state, that it will potentially lower the quality of life of elders in nursing homes to regulate the use of meat in their daily meals. 

Here, Ango Winther is of the opinion that the older population also need to adapt to the agenda of climate change.

This article is written for an international audience and could be published by The Guardian.