Nature in Denmark’s coastal regions at risk due to rising sea levels: report

Rising sea levels will put plants and animals in coastal areas in 76 of Denmark's 98 municipalities at risk over the next 50 to 100 years, a new report has found.

Grassy bank by the beach in Blokus, Denmark.
Rare birds and plants found in many of Denmark's coastal areas could disappear if sea levels rise as predicted. Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

A research team from Danish consulting group Cowi and the University of Southern Denmark studied how rises in seawater levels would affect nature along the country’s coasts over the next 50 and 100 years, Danish news service Ritzau reported.

“We are losing some coastal zones and these shallow coastal areas – also called salt marshes – in particular, will disappear,” said Torben Ebbensgaard, biologist and project manager at Cowi.

“These are breeding areas for large numbers of some very rare birds, amphibians and plants,” he said.

At least half of these salt marshes would disappear over the next 100 years taking the habitats of very rare birds and plants with them, he added.

And these rare animals would not be able to find somewhere else to live: “They have evolved to live in some very special habitats. A bird that is used to living on mussels and worms on the beach cannot just go to a wheat field,” Ebbensgaard explained.

More frequent storm surges were also expected to pose a threat to beaches, the report found.

Areas around the Limfjord, Mariager Fjord, Odense Fjord and Stege Bay could be affected by seawater rises over the next 100 years, the report found.

The report’s researchers found that, on average, water levels would rise 45 centimetres in 50 years and one metre over the next 100 years.

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Danish waste company forced to import rubbish from abroad

The high-tech Amager Bakke waste-to-energy plant is running out of rubbish supplies from the local region and will have to start importing from outside Denmark. 

Danish waste company forced to import rubbish from abroad

When ARC’s incinerator, Amager Bakke, opened in March 2017, it was one of the most modern green energy plants Denmark had ever seen.

The high-tech waste plant is designed to destroy huge amounts of trash from Copenhagen and convert it into energy which is used to heat thousands of homes in the region. It is one of two plants which play a major role in Copenhagen’s ambitions of meeting zero carbon requirements by 2025.

But now, ironically, as municipalities have become very efficient in waste sorting and recycling, the plant is quickly running out of its most important raw material: rubbish.

This has impacted the plant’s finances, so now the five municipalities behind ARC have agreed on a plan that will both improve the economy and provide heat for the capital’s homes: waste from surrounding countries will be shipped to Denmark and burned at the Amager Bakke plant.

READ ALSO: EU countries need better recycling, Copenhagen agency finds

Until now, the owner municipalities had blocked ARC’s ability to source waste through imports, but the agreement provides a waiver to allow imports to be increased until the end of 2025 to keep the furnaces running. 

In a press release, the five owner municipalities state that the increased imports will also increase CO2 emissions – but: “The alternative is that the municipalities will have to recycle less waste, that ARC’s finances will be worse – and even that there may be a need to import gas, which comes from Russia, among other places.”