Danish PM calls climate change ‘greatest challenge of our time’ at UN summit

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the current generation of world leaders will be judged in future on how they reacted to the global climate crisis as she addressed the UN climate summit in New York.

Danish PM calls climate change 'greatest challenge of our time' at UN summit
Photo: Stephanie Keith/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

Frederiksen’s government has proposed a target of 70 percent reduction in CO2 emissions nationally by 2030.

Although climate organizations have praised the goals, other activists have said that Denmark can do more to offset its climate impact.

The prime minister was seen as aiming to place Denmark at the forefront of nations seeking to set by example on climate as she spoke at the summit.

“All generations will at some time face a decisive challenge. A chance to change the world.

“Climate change is our decisive challenge. And future generations depend on us,” she said according to Ritzau’s report.

The PM meanwhile promised Denmark would lead the way in the fight against climate change.

“We have shown that clean energy can go hand in hand with progress,” she said, citing the goal of 70 percent reduction by 2030.

Frederiksen’s speech came after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg launched a scathing rebuke against world leaders as she spoke at the summit.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” an emotional Thunberg said.

At a press briefing after her speech Frederiksen said her approach was “a little different” to Thunberg’s.

“I think we can create change and that humanity has solved great challenges before. So I’m hopeful,” she said.

“I would advise against saying that if we don’t do anything right now, we’re not doing enough. The most important thing is whether or not change is made. It must happen a step at a time,” she said.

READ ALSO: Thousands of Danish schoolkids take part in global climate strike

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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.”


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.