Denmark appoints airline exec to cut flight emissions

Denmark's government has appointed a top airline executive to head a new public-private partnership aimed at reducing carbon emissions from the aviation industry.

Denmark appoints airline exec to cut flight emissions
Simon Pauck Hansen, Chief Operating Officer of SAS, argues that new, more efficient planes can be part of the solution. Photo: SAS
The partnership will be a key part of the country's push to reach its ambitious goal of slashing CO2 emissions by 70 percent by 2030. 
Simon Pauck Hansen, Chief Operating Officer of SAS, is to be partnership's chairman. He will look at how new, lower-emissions aircraft and lower emissions fuels can be used to achieve Denmark's “extremely ambitious but not unrealistic” goals. 
“There is both new technology in the market in the form of new aircraft, and technology on the way with new fuels that can help us to drive current aircraft operations more sustainably,” he said in a press release issued by Denmark's Transport Ministry on Wednesday. 
“We believe that the right thing to do is to switch the industry to a lower emissions, rather than to punish the industry and force it outside the country.” 
Pauck Hansen will now seek to bring airlines, technology companies and government bodies together into the partnership to seek to understand how best to drive the transition. 
Transport minister Benny Engelbrecht said he did not believe that the solution was to reduce the number of flights taken by Danes. 
“We depend on aviation to be able to get around the world effectively. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to fly. But we must and must fly greener than we do today,”  transport minister Benny Engelbrecht (S) said in a press release.
SAS, which is positioning itself as an aviation industry forerunner in reducing emissions, highlighted the announcement on its Twitter feed.
Denmark's climate minister made a similar point at a briefing with journalists last week, arguing that reducing the number of flights could not be the solution.
He said that the world's population was likely to hit 10 billion by 2050, and that a bigger percentage of those people would be middle income.
“More will eat meat, more will have a car, more will have an air conditioner, more will have a fridge and more will fly,” he said. “So no matter what we do to limit, just a little bit, our plane ride. That's not going to solve the problem” 
“The only thing that can solve the problem enough for us to stay on the 1.5 degree is to make plane transportation green.”  
Simon Pauck Hansen will lead the new public-private partnership. Photo: SAS
Pauck Hansen noted that electrical aircraft were a possibility for the future, “but we probably have a few years to go”.
In October, he sent a proposal to the Danish Ministry of Transport proposing that a $5 surcharge on flights leaving Danish airports be used to generate up to 300m Danish kroner which would go to research low emissions flight technologies. 
“We believe that this is a price that consumers are willing to pay to contribute to the green transition,” he said. 

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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.