Denmark's Ambition

Denmark has set the target to become a climate neutral society with net zero emissions in 2050 at the latest. The aim is to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
In accordance with current EU legislation related to the “Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action” , Denmark formally communicated this target to the European Commission in December 2019 through a so-called “Long-term Strategy”. Intended as an evolving document, this strategy is expected to be updated more often than the 5-10 years intervals required by the EU Governance Regulation. A first update is expected to be formulated and submitted in 2020 – both within the EU and to the UNFCCC in accord-ance with the Paris Agreement.

Denmark's Pathway

The Danish government intends to lead the way both domestically and glob-ally to fight climate change. Thus, the Danish government reached an agreement in the Danish Parliament December 2019 on the content of a new national Climate Act. The act includes a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gases by 70% by 2030 (relative to 1990 level), to reach net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and to set milestone targets based on a five-year cycle with a ten-year perspective. The Climate Act will be fol-lowed by climate action plans to ensure that national reduction targets are met.

Denmark is committed to doing its part to fight climate change.

With a new target of 70% reduction in 2030 and climate neutrality in 2050 at the latest, efforts will accelerate even further in the coming years. Internationally, Den-mark cooperates with a range of countries and organizations.

Denmark in-tends to utilize years of experience with renewable energy, energy efficiency and the green transition in general to help countries reduce their emissions and transition to clean energy while maintaining economic growth.

Denmark’s story so far

Denmark has long been engaged in the fight against climate change. A pio-neer in wind power, Denmark generated half of its electricity from wind and solar power in 2019 – the highest share ever. From 1990 to 2017, Danish emissions decreased from 75.2 million tons of CO2e to 51 million ton CO2e, a reduction of 32.2%. Within the next 10 years, that number will be 70%.

The national Climate Act introduces legally binding targets and measures that will ensure continual progress in Danish efforts and reduction targets. Among such measures is the obligation for the government to provide new climate reduction targets every five years with a ten-year perspective. In the course of 2020, the Danish government and the Parliament is set to negoti-ate specific climate action plans that will implement the 70% reduction target.

As a member of the European Union Denmark strives towards an ambitious EU climate policy. Specifically, the Danish government actively supports that EU increases its current climate target from 40% reduction in 2030 (relative to 1990) to at the very least 55%. Furthermore, Denmark is part of the Eu-ropean Union Emissions Trading System, EU ETS, a key feature of Europe-an climate policy.

Denmark’s initiatives from 2020

New Climate Act
With the Climate Act, Denmark will see new policies and efforts implemented in the near future. As previously mentioned, the Climate Act includes a 70% reduction target in 2030 (relative to 1990), climate neutrality in 2050 at the latest, and 10-year climate plans that the government by law must update at least every five years – all of which is legally binding.

Green funding for the future
Denmark has decided to establish Denmark’s Green Future Fund with a total capacity of DKK 25 billion. The aim of the fund is to support the green transition nationally and globally, including developing and diffusing new technologies, converting energy systems to renewable energy, and promoting global export of green technologies.

Furthermore, Denmark intends to increase research spending within the field of the green transition from the planned DKK 0.5 billon to DKK 1.5 billion in 2020.

Development assistance
To support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, it will be necessary to increase support to the world’s poorest countries, where climate change often hits the hardest and risks undermining sustainable development. With the fiscal act for 2020, Denmark will double the dedicated green development assistance to DKK 1.604 billion. The government has also proposed to double the Danish contribution to UNFCCC’s Green Climate Fund to DKK 800 million over a four-year period from 2020-2023. Furthermore, the fiscal act for 2020 has dedicated DKK 210 million to help communities in least developed countries building up climate adaptation/resilience.

Energy in Denmark
Denmark has a leading global position on offshore wind. With the latest Energy Agreement from 2018, a united parliament agreed to establish another three new offshore wind farms before 2030 with a combined capacity of at least 2400 MW. At the same time, the Energy Agreement entails a phase-out of coal from Danish electricity production before 2030. Furthermore, technology neutral tenders on renewable energy will be held yearly over a course of five years.

Lastly, the government has proposed the establishment of two energy islands with each 2 gigawatt – with an artificial island in the North Sea and with utilizing the Danish island of Bornholm as an energy island. Each energy island will be connected to 2 gigawatt offshore wind. The energy island in the North Sea will in the long run be able to host a total output of minimum 10 gigawatt, which will increase Denmark’s capacity fivefold, equaling 10 large offshore wind farms, which will be able to cover the electricity needs of more than 10 million European households. The combined investments required is between DKK 200-300 billion.

Studies have shown that for several agricultural products, Danish agriculture is among the most climate effective per unit in the EU. Nonetheless, agriculture amounts to a significant part of Denmark’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and the government is committed to reducing emissions further. Agricultural support will therefore play an important role in providing farmers with the incentive to transition to a more sustainable production. Furthermore, the Danish state will, among other, spend DKK 2 billion from 2020 to 2029 on supporting nature, aquatic environment and climate related purposes, hereunder on set-aside of carbon rich agricultural land in order to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

The Danish government acknowledges that a green transition in alignment with the Paris Agreement can only succeed if business takes its share of responsibility. The government has therefore established 13 “climate partnerships” with Danish industry and business leaders. The 13 partnerships represent all branches of Danish business. Together with the government, they have been tasked with finding solutions on how Danish business and industry can contribute their part to the national 70% reduction target. The government received the partnerships’ first set of proposals in March 2020.

The Danish government is aware that it requires a comprehensive green transformation of the transport sector in order to ensure that the transport sector will deliver its share of the necessary reductions to reach the 70 % target.

A Commission for Green Transition of Passenger Cars is expected to provide recommendations for policies and measures primarily in the tax system that will contribute to significantly increase the share of green cars towards 2030. Denmark also has an ambition to stop sales of all new diesel and petrol cars as of 2030 and to enhance low emission zones.

The Danish Parliament has decided to electrify the main railway lines on the Danish state railway network before 2030. Rail Net Denmark is currently implementing the Electrification Programme and together with Danish State Railways’ purchase of electric rolling stock, this creates the foundation for CO2 neutral train traffic on the Danish main railway network.

To support and accelerate the green transition of public busses the Danish government is aiming to agree on an ambitious plan for the transformation towards low or zero emission busses with the municipalities and regions in Denmark. Furthermore, the Danish government and their supporting parties has in April 2020 agreed on distributing approximately 10 million euros to support the emergence of low or zero emission busses on regional routes and busses on small islands.

Construction and Housing
The Danish government is working on a strategy for sustainable construction. This strategy will set the stage for a green transition of the construction sector in Denmark and will, inter alia, focus on more climate friendly construction and construction procedures, producing high quality buildings with a long lifespan, renovating existing buildings and enhancing focus on lifecycle thinking including the possibilities to reuse or recycle materials, where this is possible.

The Danish government will before summer 2020 launch a voluntary tool for the assessment and enhancement of buildings’ sustainability – the voluntary sustainability class. This tool includes specific steps to improve and asses the sustainability of a building – the main step being lifecycle analyses.

Parliament has in May 2020 made an agreement on renovation in the social housing sector. It increases incentives to initiate profitable energy projects by guaranteeing for the expected energy savings. Initiatives regarding funding of experiments with the aim to develop new sustainable solutions as well as a “green” criterion to take out loans for renovations will accelerate the green transition. When fully implemented, the agreement is expected to reduce the emission with 47.000 ton CO2 and will, more importantly, contribute to a structural shift towards a greener social housing sector, which includes more than 500.000 social housing units.

Citizen’s Climate Assembly
A citizen’s climate assembly will be established. The members will be selected based on simple criteria such as age, gender, geography, educational and income levels to reflect the general population. They will debate various topics and dilemmas related to the green transition and ultimately make recommendations to the design of Danish climate policy.