New report assesses the Government´s climate effort and provides recommendations on how to meet the 70 percent target in 2030

26 february 2021

In the “Status update report 2021 – Denmark´s national and international climate efforts”, the Danish Council on Climate Change (DCCC) states that the Governments joint climate efforts do not demonstrate the likelihood that the 70 percent target of the Climate Law will be achieved. The DCCC report makes five recommendations, which will bring Denmark closer to the target.

The new Climate Act from June 2020 stipulates that the DCCC is to make annual recommendations for and provide a status update on the Government´s climate efforts. An important part of the DCCC status update is an assessment of whether climate action efforts in the form of adopted instruments and other climate policy initiatives demonstrate the likelihood that the Danish 70-percent target in 2030 will be met. Based on this assessment the DCCC makes recommendations on initiatives that may bring Denmark closer to fulfilling the 70 percent target. Despite a number of climate policy agreements between the Government and the Parliament, the DCCC does not find it likely that the Government will achieve the target of a 70-percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030.

The primary reason for this is that the Government has not made a concrete plan for how to fill two thirds of the emissions reduction gap remaining after implementation of the agreements adopted.

Furthermore, the Government largely bases the remaining effort on new technologies without a proper plan on how to achieve the reductions. The Government will only accomplish a 70 percent reduction by 2030, if the high-end estimates of reduction potentials are realized. The Government´s less optimistic, low-end estimates will only ensure a total reduction somewhat below 70 percent, which is the target adopted by a large majority in Parliament.

The Government must prioritize further planning considerably. The question is which concrete transition elements and measures the Government intends to use. Furthermore, it is critical that the Government urgently provides a clear roadmap with time schedules, processes, and milestones for the development and implementation of the technologies and measures needed to ensure that Denmark meets the 70 percent target by 2030”, says the Chairman of the Danish Council on Climate Change, Peter Møllgaard.

In addition, he states that a roadmap must also deal with the risk that some technologies may not progress as expected by the Government. Hence, the Government should provide an alternative take on how the 70 percent target will be reached nonetheless. Likewise, he underlines the time lapse from political adoption until actual implementation. Consequently, realistic appraisals of when a certain decision may be traced in greenhouse gas accounts are essential.

A significant step ahead

The Council on Climate Change recognizes that the Government has ensured the adoption of policy measures cutting some 7 million tonnes of CO2e by 2030. This is equivalent to around one third of the outstanding reduction gap. Nevertheless, it is not sufficient in itself to create a credible pathway to fulfilling the 70 percent target and to balance the lack of specific plans and processes for meeting the remaining part of the reductions needed.

Reduction measures already adopted can in some regards be characterized as low-hanging fruits, and it will become increasingly more difficult to find new tonnes for the pool of reductions

Approximately 7 million tonnes of CO2 is a significant step ahead, but combined this is insufficient given the ambitious target agreed by the Government and the Parliament. Achieving the target will be a significant challenge and the Council does not find that the Government has demonstrated the likelihood that the target will be met and – if achieved – how this will be done. This does not preclude that the target can be met. Yet, it is clear that the Government must be busy both securing adoption of concrete policies leading to real emission reductions and to provide clarity on how the remaining reduction gap will be filled”, says Peter Møllgaard.

Five recommendations

Beyond asking the Government to present a more detailed plan for the outstanding reduction effort, the Climate Council recommends to the Government to develop a national strategy on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as soon as possibly. The Council also recommends that the Government adopts additional policy measures in order to achieve extra emission reductions. Furthermore, the Council recommends the Government ensure the implementation of a general greenhouse gas tax, which could support a cost-efficient fulfilment of Denmark`s climate objectives. Applying a uniform tax on all greenhouse gas emissions will provide market based incentives to realize all reduction potentials with costs lower than the tax, while potentials with higher costs remain untapped. In this way, a uniform tax helps achieving the cheapest possible transition. An early announcement of a markedly higher and increasing greenhouse gas tax will establish a more stable framework for enterprises and households. Finally, the Council on Climate Change recommends a higher price on climate effects in socio-economic calculations and an accelerated rewetting of drained peat soils.

“We recommend that the authorities develop a national screening map in order to provide an overview of  peat soils, which may be rewetted early, and of other soils requiring more preparations, for example due to risks of flooding of neighbouring properties. The screening map should be used to accelerate the process. Rewetting of peat soils is a complex task, yet it is a cheap and effective measure as compared to other potential reduction measures available to protect the climate,” says Peter Møllgaard.

The Danish Council on Climate Change recommends a model combining economic incentives with the screening map and a binding and time-limited agreement scheme between public authorities and farms. In this way, rewetting can proceed in a coordinated way, while addressing practical barriers and including relevant stakeholders and authorities.  In time, a general tax on greenhouse gases can provide the economic incentive, whereas in the short term the incentive may come via an auction-based subsidy-scheme.

The report also concludes that Denmark is close at fulfilling current EU energy- and climate obligations for 2030 by means of the policy agreements adopted in the recent year. Additional efforts are required to meet the Non-ETS obligation, though fulfilment of the 70 percent target is very likely to deliver on this obligation too. Expectedly, the EU will increase its overall reduction target for 2030 from 40 percent to at least 55 percent, and this might imply that Denmark and other Member States will be met with tighter obligations than today. The Council also reviewed the Governments global strategy stipulated by the new Climate Act, and calls for a clear link with the Governments reporting on Denmark´s global effort in the future. Better inventories and indicators should be developed in order to facilitate the assessment.

Facts and figures

  • The total emission reduction gap is 20 million tonnes.
  • According to the assessment of the Danish Council on Climate Change the Government has secured political agreements reducing emissions by 7.2 million tonnes CO2e by 2030.
  • Above all, the agreed reductions stem from the energy and industry sectors jointly providing around 60 percent of the 7.2 million tonnes CO2e. The transport sector provides about 28 percent of the reductions, respectively.
  • The political agreements and other expected developments provide a reduction of 54 percent compared to 1990


The English summary of the report can be downloaded in the menu on the right.