Climate Action in Denmark

Climate change is a major challenge that needs to be addressed both on the global and the national level. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tells us that the world's greenhouse gas emissions need to peak as soon as possible and no later than 2020 in order that the temperature does not rise more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

In 2050, emissions from industrialized countries should be reduced by 80-95 percent compared to 1990 levels; a goal the EU has committed to as part of a comprehensive global response. The 2050 target is ambitious, and to meet it will require significant efforts on Denmark's part. Denmark has an ambitious energy policy which will be a crucial element in realizing this objective.

As the sector that emits the most greenhouse gases, the energy sector is a key area for climate policy in both the short and long term. With the broad energy policy agreement from 2012 in place, there is truly a process in motion in order to transform the energy sector and aiming at the target of having the entire energy supply based on 100% renewable energy by 2050.

But despite significant achievements and goals in the energy sector, there is a need for additional efforts in all sectors, including transport, agriculture and waste.

The Danish Climate Policy Plan

In August 2013, the government produced a climate plan in which it outlined the policy principles for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 in comparison to 1990 levels.

In connection with work on the climate plan, an inter-ministerial working group created a catalogue of climate initiatives. It describes about 80 possible climate measures. The catalogue of climate initiatives together with legislation on the climate will be the key tools of the government as it continuously fine-tunes its climate policy.

Denmark's climate policy consists of two elements: action on a national level and action at a European level. An offensive Danish climate policy is heavily dependent on developments in the EU, therefore the government will actively pursue a more ambitious climate policy at a European level.

With the climate policy plan, the government will enter into dialogue with parliament, business’ and civil society on the national initiatives we need to undertake in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Change Act

In June 2014 the Danish Climate Change Act was adopted in Parliament with support from the government parties and the Conservative People’s Party, the Socialist People's Party and the Red-Green Alliance. The Climate Change Act establishes an overall strategic framework for national climate policy in order to convert to a low-carbon society by 2050. The new strategic framework will ensure transparency and openness on the status, direction and momentum for climate change policy.

The legal content of the Climate Change Act:

1)       Establishment of an independent, academically based
          Climate Council.

2)       An Annual Climate Policy Report.

3)       Process for establishing new national climate targets.

By the 1th of January 2015 a new independent Climate Council is to be established to promote transparency and an academically coherent approach for decisions on national climate policy. The Climate Council is to provide independent advice to the Government on the state’s transition to a low-carbon society. The Climate Council shall at least once a year make recommendations to the government on climate action, so that this move can be geared to the most cost-efficient manner in terms of growth, competitiveness and employment.

In order to encourage a broad political and social discussion, the climate, energy and building minister must publish a report on climate policy report every year. The report will include an overview of climate policy and climate action as well as the Climate Council’s recommendations and the government's position on the subject. The climate policy report will be sent to parliament and thus serve as part of the ongoing debate on climate change.

The climate law obliges the climate, energy and building minister and coming ministers to present proposals for new national climate targets to Parliament at least every fifth year. The new targets will have a 10 year perspective. Future climate, energy and building ministers are obliged to continuously present new national climate goals to parliament within this framework.

Latest update: 7. January 2015