Why are critics calling Denmark’s new climate plan ‘unacceptable’?

Climate minister Dan Jørgensen presents Denmark's roadmap to meet its 2030 climate goal.
Climate minister Dan Jørgensen presents Denmark's roadmap to meet its 2030 climate goal. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark’s government unveiled this week a plan it says will ensure all industrial sectors contribute to the country’s target of reducing CO2 emissions by 70 percent before 2030.

The plan was presented on Wednesday by climate minister Dan Jørgensen at a briefing in Copenhagen.

“We are going to revisit the areas where we have (previously) made agreements. By 2025 we’ll have revisited all sectors at least once,” Jørgensen said in comments reported by news wire Ritzau.

The programme presented Wednesday is specifically focused on enabling Denmark to reach its national target of reducing emissions by 70 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2030.

It includes initiatives to be implemented in the energy, waste, recycling and agriculture sectors, proposals for sustainable industry and policies to increase use of electric and hybrid cars and renewable fuels.

The UN’s climate panel recently released a report in which it said projected a worst-case scenario of global temperature increases between 3.3 and 5.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. That is some way from the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to under 1.5 degrees and preferably 2 degrees by the end of the century.

“It’s with this background that I present a climate programme and plan of actions for a green Denmark, showing how we will reach our 70 percent target,” Jørgensen said.

The government plan contains 24 initiatives which will work towards meeting that target.

A climate law passed by parliament last year ratified the 70 percent target, but the specific policies that will ensure it were not set down. The government aims to have all initiatives in place by 2025, with this week’s announcement laying out some of those steps.

“In two years, we’ve made decisions that get us halfway to the target. That’s good because it happened with broad parliamentary backing and during a period when we were challenged by corona,” Jørgensen said.

Critics including researchers and parliamentary allies said the plan fails to address the most acute climate needs by setting down a plan to reach 2025 targets, newspaper Dagbladet Information reported on Thursday.

In addition to the 2030 target, the government also pledged to reduce emissions by 50-54 percent by 2025, following negotiations earlier this year with left wing allied parties.

Although the plan is the government’s first to set out a specific roadmap for Denmark’s climate action, the lack of answers on 2025 targets could leave the country with too little time to hit shorter term goals, according to experts.

“The climate programme does not address how we will reach (the 2025) goal. And that is important because if we are hit the 2025 goal, that increases the chance of meeting the 2030 goal,” professor Peter Møllgaard of the government’s independent climate advisory board Klimarådet told Information.

Red Green Alliance party spokesperson Peder Hvelplund said the failure to live up to 2025 targets in the programme was “completely unacceptable”.

“It’s a bit tiring that every time the government puts forward a plan of action, it looks a bit like a delaying plan. We have a clear agreement for a 2025 goal and the government must naturally deliver on that,” Hvelplund told Information.

The Red Green Alliance spokesperson called for a “high, uniform CO2 tax” and reforms in the agricultural sector as key elements that could ensure meeting the 2025 target.

Claus Ekman, director of The Ecological Council (Rådet for Grøn Omstilling) said there was a “hole” in the plan in relation to the 2025 goal.

“And when we look at how the government has pushed things into a corner time and again – both agriculture proposals and CO2 taxes – I’m concerned about the 2025 goal,” Ekman said to Information.

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