The challenge

Our common resources and climate are under pressure. All projections show that the world’s population continues to increase. Several billion people need to leave poverty – and in general gain access to energy and sufficient food supplies. This increases the strain on finite resources such as arable farmland and water and on non-renewable resources such as phosphorus.

On paper, the world community has agreed to prevent global warming from rising more than +2°C, but only a few countries are pursuing this target.

The EU has formulated official targets, and Denmark has an official target to completely phase out fossil fuels by 2050. After almost forty years of working to convert to renewable energy, we are well on our way here in Denmark and we have a strong platform on which to realise our targets.

But there is also reason to look beyond Denmark's boarders. The demand for oil and oil-based products is increasing worldwide, in spite of the fact that we can already see that the world’s oil production has peaked or is close to peaking.

Among other consequences, this will tremendously exacerbate the financial imbalance between oil-producing countries and oil-importing countries – and have a devastating impact on the EU, which is highly (and increasingly) dependent on imported oil. In 2010, EU’s Member States spent EUR 315 billion on imported oil.

Up until now, Denmark has been doing rather nicely with our vast earnings from the North Sea production of oil and gas. But, as production peaked in 2004, we anticipate that government revenues will decrease in the years ahead.

Therefore, we need to be innovative and build up an entirely different, resource-optimised economy, different from the one on which we have been based since the dawn of Industrialisation.

It took the petrochemical industry decades to refine its processes and products, but we don’t have this much time to spare. Therefore, now is the time for us to act.