Denmark Raises Millions in World’s First-Ever Climate Telethon

Musicians, comedians and sports people supported the fundraising drive, which raised enough money to plant one million trees.

16.09.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Spencer Watson on Unsplash
Photo by Spencer Watson on Unsplash

A ‘telethon’ is a familiar sight during large-scale fundraising campaigns: a row of phones taking donations from the public; a team of celebrities and a glitzy TV show encouraging people to give more of their money. Think George Clooney, Beyoncé and Oprah taking donations for hurricane victims and you get the picture. 

Denmark has just done the same, but with a twist. Comedians, musicians and famous sportspeople were present — but this time, the aim of the telethon was to raise money for the environment.

Specifically, it was for planting trees. Called Denmark Plants Trees, the initiative was a collaboration between public TV channel TV2 and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation.

For every 20 Danish kroner ($3) donated, the scheme promised to plant one tree. While to some this may seem expensive, 20% of the donations were used to preserve pre-existing forest around the country.

“Forests are the most effective tool we have today to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere,” an accompanying website explained.

“But forests are not just good for the climate. At the same time, they provide cleaner drinking water, more habitats for our plants and wildlife, new areas for Danes’ outdoor life and climate-friendly wood products, which store CO2 and replace climate-heavy materials such as steel and concrete in construction.”

Overall, individuals and businesses, from Denmark and abroad, donated $2.67m to the project. This was just short of the organiser’s goal, but allowed the team to raise enough money to plant 914,233 trees.

Kim Niselsen, founder of the Growing Trees Network Foundation, which is part of the project, told German newspaper Die Welt: “It’s a positive way to inspire people, showing how to make a difference, with a small act to tackle the climate crisis.”

The success comes as the world celebrates #WorldOzoneDay — a day to remember the damage caused to another part of the world which protects the earth from overheating and initiatives to help the ozone layer recover. According to the UN, nations have cut out 99% of chemicals that damage the ozone, meaning the protective layer is on course to return to pre-1980 coverage levels by 2060s.

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