The flowing locks are long gone, but Frank has lost none of his Beatles-era idealism as he steers this small southern Swedish city (population 89,000) to becoming fossil-fuel free by 2030 – a target the council, led by Frank, agreed as long ago as 1991, becoming the first city in the world to do so.
Shrug, well, if they want to, why not?
“Each citizen must contribute,” he says by way of explanation. “You can’t just blame others and expect them to do something. You have to start with yourself: the way you purchase, the way you live, the way you drive, the way you use transport, heat and electricity. Demand is very important to making change.”
Slight whiff of the Birkenstock stamping on a human face forever there, no?
Frank puts his city’s success down to the fact that in Sweden, income tax revenues go directly to municipal councils which have huge discretion over how they are spent – and the eight political parties, which span the political spectrum, have over the years been united about the green agenda. “We don’t even debate it at a local level. You could say there are eight green parties.”
No political choice, eh?
The nursery school is where Växjö begins grooming its green citizens of the future. From the age of one, they learn how to sort their waste, teacher Lena Rydell says, and how to value nature during frequent outings in the nearby forest.