Stop selling new petrol and diesel-fuelled cars by 2030: Danish government

Cars that run on fossil fuels should be phased out, with sales stopped within the next 12 years, the government has said.

Stop selling new petrol and diesel-fuelled cars by 2030: Danish government
Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen confirmed in his parliamentary opening speech on Tuesday that his government would seek to stop sales of fuel-driven cars by 2030.

Rasmussen also said he hoped that there would be one million electric or hybrid cars in Denmark by 2030.

“The transport sector is currently responsible for a quarter of Denmark’s carbon dioxide emissions. The air in the largest cities is polluted. So the government will now state a clear aim: in 12 years. In 12 years, we will stop the sale of petrol and diesel cars,” he said in the speech.

The stated goal will be included in a proposal on the environment to be presented by the government next week.

“In seventeen years, every single new car in Denmark must be an electric car, a hybrid or some other form of zero emissions vehicle,” the PM said.

Climate is likely to be an important talking point for Rasmussen’s Liberal party and other parliamentary groups in the lead-up to next year’s general election.

Rasmussen said he hoped the coalition government would pass a bill on the environment before the election was called.

“We are in a race against time when it comes to climate change. But we should not turn our efforts into a political competition. We will only achieve our aims if parliament works together,” he said.

READ ALSO: Copenhagen's public transport to get greener with new electric buses


‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.