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Denmark committed to 40% emissions reduction in 2020

Denmark’s new coalition government, elected last month, has adopted a new, more ambitious climate policy committing the country to reduce its GHG emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020 through domestic action. This target brings Denmark into line with the level of reduction proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as with the targets of several other Nordic and Northern European countries. The government estimates that roughly two thirds of the target will be achieved in the energy sector, and one third in the transport and agriculture sectors. In addition to the GHG reduction target, the government aims to abolish fossil fuel for energy generation by 2035, and by 2050 Denmark is to be completely fossil-free, including the transportation sector.

The expansion of renewable energy is a focal point in achieving both targets: by 2020, 50% of electricity consumed in Denmark must be generated by wind turbines, up from around 25% today. This means that a steep increase in offshore wind must take place, alongside an expansion of onshore wind. Transportation and agriculture are also essential parts of the new plan. The government plans to introduce a road-pricing scheme for heavy trucks and it is establishing a national Nature and Agriculture Commission that will be charged with addressing how to enhance carbon sequestration through changing agricultural practices, among other issues.

CONCITO played an active role in persuading the government to undertake this new program. A key factor in the debate was the observation that a number of Denmark’s peers had already taken on targets of similar ambition to the proposed Danish policy. Recommendations from CONCITO’s Annual Climate Outlook also played a role as well as its report documenting that 77,000 new jobs could be created through a green transition. Fundamental, however, was the report from the Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy from September 2010. It showed the transition away from fossil fuels would not be more expensive than business-as-usual, once the projected cost increases of fossil fuels through 2050 are taken into account.

Despite the stated commitment of the coalition government, the government has yet to develop policies and measures sufficient to meet the target, especially with regard to the transportation and agriculture sectors. Hence, CONCITO will continue monitoring Danish climate policies through the Annual Climate Outlook and this work will be even more persuasive once it is embedded in the context of the Open Climate Network – because, after all, other countries’ achievements often work wonders with politicians.

This post is the work of an Open Climate Network partner. The World Resources Institute is not responsible for the content or opinions expressed by the author.

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