Denmark’s CO2 emissions increased in 2018, making climate targets tougher

CO2 emissions rose by four percent in Denmark in 2018, according to preliminary calculations.

Denmark’s CO2 emissions increased in 2018, making climate targets tougher
File photo: Johan Gadegaard/Midtjyske Medier/Ritzau Scanpix

The increase in emission may be due in part a drought caused by a dry summer the year before last, Politiken writes.

The preliminary report, submitted by Denmark to the EU and the UN, was produced by Aarhus University. It shows a four percent increase in Denmark's greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

The increase takes the country’s emissions levels away from targets set out by the government and last year’s climate law.

READ ALSO: Denmark 'needs green tax reform to meet climate goal'

Aarhus University’s report cites extremely dry conditions in Denmark in the spring and summer of 2018. This resulted in a harvest 25 percent smaller than normal and fewer roots and less straw being ploughed into the soil. Both roots and plant residues prevent CO2 release into the air.

In addition, the drought caused forests to grow more slowly than in other years, which may also have been a factor, said senior researcher Steen Gyldenkærne, who conducted the calculations for the Aarhus University report.

“Microorganisms in the soil continue to feed off plant residues. During normal years this would be offset by new material, but when yields are as low as in 2018, there will be a loss of CO2 to the atmosphere,” Gyldenkærne told Politiken.

The four percent increase corresponds to 2 million of the total 54.5 million tonnes that represents Denmark’s 2018 emissions. But the year’s hot weather is not thought to be the only cause of the increased emissions.

Aarhus University also corrected a previous calculation error which resulted in an estimate of emissions from low-lying fields being 1.6 tonnes too low.

The four percent increase is a bad sign, according to Christian Ibsen, director of green think tank Concito.

“This is not good enough. The report clearly shows that we are not on the right track at all,” Ibsen told Politiken.

According to the new estimate, Denmark will have to cut 31 million tonnes of its emissions by 2030 to meet its political goals, Politiken writes. That is substantially more than cuts made in the period from 1990-2018.

The government’s target is to reduce CO2 emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 in relation to the level in 1990. That goal is written into law via the Climate Act, which eight of parliament's ten parties voted through in late 2019.

Two small right-wing libertarian parties, Liberal Alliance and Nye Borgerlige (New Right), voted against the climate law.

READ ALSO: Has Denmark already seen the end of sub-zero temperatures this winter?

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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.