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US withdrawal will not stop Paris Agreement: Danish PM Rasmussen

Denmark and other countries are determined to see through the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said as environment ministers from 190 countries met in the German city of Bonn on Tuesday at the UN’s COP23 climate summit.

US withdrawal will not stop Paris Agreement: Danish PM Rasmussen
Lars Løkke Rasmussen. Photo: Jens Dresling/Polfoto/Ritzau

Much of the discussion at the summit will revolve around US President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this year that his country – which the world’s second-largest carbon dioxide emissions – would pull out of the December 2015 agreement.

But other countries are determined to see the agreement through, regardless of the message sent by the United States, according to Danish PM Rasmussen.

“World society must move on after the American announcement about the Paris Agreement. We must not forget that there are still 190 countries that believe the future of the planet is worth fighting for,” Rasmussen said ahead of the summit via a written statement.

“That’s why we at COP23 must sent a unified and clear message that the rest of the world supports the Paris Agreement, and that conversion to green energy cannot be stopped,” the PM continued.

Rasmussen also said that the EU must shoulder its share of the responsibility for the agreement.

“This means that us in the EU soon have laws in place to transfer the Paris agreement to tangible action between member countries,” he said.

“Denmark’s example can inspire the rest of the world and help to push global development towards lower emissions in the right direction,” he continued.

Since 1990, Denmark’s economy has grown 40 percent, while CO2 emissions have shrunk by 30 percent, Rasmussen said.

“That is thanks to Denmark’s ambitious climate policies over several decades, and that we have some of the best green businesses, which have catalysed our green conversion,” he said.

A number of Danish NGOs have criticised Rasmussen’s government for not prioritising the UN’s climate initiatives prior to the summit.

Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate Lars Christian Lilleholt will represent Denmark at the summit, which will not be attended by heads of government.

Lilleholt has been criticised by a confederation known as the 92 Group (92-Gruppen), which consists of 24 Danish organisations concerned with the environment, climate and development.

The minister has focused on selling Danish climate technology, rather than fighting climate change, according to the group. Lilleholt has rejected the criticism.

Rasmussen maintains that the government has set “ambitious” goals on climate, including the target of becoming fossil fuel independent by 2050.

Sustainable energy will be responsible for at least half of Denmark’s energy needs by 2030, should another target be reached.

READ ALSO: Denmark 'stands with Macron' on climate: PM

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Danish parliament gives go ahead to giant artificial island off Copenhagen

Denmark's parliament has given the go-ahead to build Lynetteholm, a giant artificial island that will protect Copenhagen's harbour waters from rising sea levels at the same times as providing homes for 35,000 people.

Danish parliament gives go ahead to giant artificial island off Copenhagen
How the island will look while udner construction. Photo: By og Havn

The bill empowering the government to push ahead with the project passed with a massive majority of 85 in favour and 12 against, opening the way for work to push ahead on the 2.8 square kilometer island early as this autumn.

In a short debate on Friday morning, Thomas Jensen, the Social Democrat MP coordinating the bill, dismissed claims that not enough had been done to assess the environmental consequences of what has been described as the largest construction project in Danish history.

“Of the bills I have helped to implement here in the parliament, this is the one which has been most thoroughly discussed, with expert consultations, technical reviews, and almost 200 questions to the Ministry of Transport, which have been answered by the rapporteurs,” he said. “So in terms of process, it is completely worked out.”

READ ALSO: 

Ahead of the vote protesters from the Stop Lynetteholm Facebook group staged a protest outside the parliament, with many dressed in Sean the Sheep costumes. 

Protesters dressed as sheep staged a demonstration against the Lynetteholm project outside the parliament. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The parliamentary vote is not the last hurdle.

The project is also being challenged in the European Court of Justice, on the grounds that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)  have looked at the impact of constructing the island itself, but not of the roads, metro lines, housing and other developments which will go on it.

Lynetteholm is being built partly as a coastal protection project, with a dam that will protect Copenhagen from future storm surges.

The plan was first announced in 2018 by the then Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the then Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen. 

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