A framework for Danish climate policy

Published 2 october 2019

A majority of the Danish Parliament (Folketing) has decided that Denmark is to have a new climate act. The aim of the new climate act is to support and steer the Danish transition towards a climate neutral society by the middle of this century. At that point in time Denmark and the rest of the world should be well on the way to eliminating the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases causing ever more serious climate change across the globe, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Early this year, 67,308 citizens in Denmark signed a petition for a new climate act. Since then, both sides of the Danish Parliament (Folketing) have expressed the need to revise and tighten the existing 2014 Climate Act. In addition, the current government and its supporting parties have presented an agreement (Retfærdig retning for Danmark), stating that the new government will “propose a climate bill with binding intermediate targets and binding long-term targets” in the next parliamentary year. There is thus a broad parliamentary desire to draw up a new and stronger climate act.

Ideally, the Danish Parliament will adopt a new climate act that can ensure progress in the green transition, and that can both ensure a sufficient level of ambition and ensure that these ambitions are realised. These elements are not part of the current Climate Act, which only includes a target for 2050, the establishment of The Danish Council on Climate Change, and a requirement that the Danish government present a climate-policy report every year.

If we are to achieve the goal of a green transition in Denmark, all parts of society must contribute. If the public and businesses are to develop and invest in green solutions, whether this be investment in a heat pump for a house or investment in a new plant to produce green fuels, a stable framework for climate policy must be in place. This means climate policies should avoid stop-go-politics and ensure that the public and businesses can have confidence in the planned political framework. Broad political support for a new climate act will be the best guarantee of a stable framework.

This analysis, Framework for Danish climate policy - input for a new Danish climate act with global perspectives has two chapters. Chapter 1 examines the need for national climate policy goals. Just as the Paris Agreement sets the course for international climate policy, it is appropriate to set targets that steer Danish climate policy, and therefore The Danish Council on Climate Change look more closely at the Danish objectives. There are good reasons to set both long-term targets, and intermediate targets. Long-term targets can help clarify what Denmark is working towards, while intermediate targets make political management towards reaching the long-term targets significantly easier and make the transition more tangible. The interaction between the two types of targets, the long-term targets and the intermediate targets, is crucial and it is appropriate to include both types of goals when planning Danish climate policy.

In the 2018 Energy Agreement, the Danish Parliament agreed that Denmark is to have net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. This means that we can only have very few emissions, which must be counterbalanced by an equal uptake of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The Danish government and its supporting parties have agreed on an intermediate target for 2030 on the way towards a society with net-zero emissions: Denmark must have reduced total emissions of greenhouse gasses by 70 pct. compared with the 1990 level. Since this agreement, a number of other parties have stated that they support this target. Both the target for 2030 and 2050 should be written into an upcoming climate act.

The English summary of the analysis can be downloadet in the menu.