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The climate initiative in Denmark

The governmental climate policy is subject to the EU target of reducing greenhouse gases for 2020 and 2030. The long-term objective of the government is that Denmark should be a low-emission society in 2050, independent of fossil fuels.

The Danish climate initiative up to 2020

Because of its membership of the EU, Denmark has undertaken reduction objectives as to the quota and the non-quota sectors. The quota sector comprises the energy sector and the most energy-intensive companies in the EU, and the non-quota sector comprises transport, agriculture, individual heating of buildings, waste combustion and other less important sources.In relation to the burden sharing of the general objective of the non-quota sector Denmark has undertaken to reduce national emissions from the non-quota sectors by 20 % by 2020 as compared to the 2005 level and to meet the annual intermediate objectives up to 2020.Denmark is expected to over-achieve the reduction objective of the total emission of non-quota greenhouse gases in the period 2013-2020. The expected over-achievement is about 12.5 million CO2 equivalents. It is expected, however, that Denmark under-achieves its annual intermediate objective of 2020. This under-achievement does not, however, challenge the total target achievement given the fact that it can under-achieve the sub-targets one year, if it is correspondingly over-achieved another year.Emissions from the quota sector are adjusted at EU level by means of the quota system (the EU Emissions Trading System, ETS). Consequently, Denmark does not have a national target for the quota sector. Denmark is significantly above the EU average as far as reduction of quota-based emissions is concerned, and this tendency is expected to be further improved up to 2020.

Up to 2020 the Danish quota-based emissions are expected to drop by more than 40 % as compared to 2005, whereas the European average is expected only to drop by a little over 20 %.


The Danish climate initiative up to 2030

In 2014 the EU heads of state and governments agreed on the general framework of the EU climate and energy policy up to 2030. The 2030 framework contains, as a central part, a binding target of internal reduction of greenhouse emissions within the EU by at least 40 % by 2030 as compared to 1990.To achieve this target in a cost-effective way, the sectors, comprised by the EU quota trading system, must reduce the emissions by 43 % by 2030 as compared to 2005, whereas the non-quota sector must reduce the emissions by 30 % by 2030 as compared to 2005. This ambitious target will form the framework of the Danish climate policy many years ahead.

As part of the target of the 2030 framework of the quota sector there is a goal that 27 % of the energy consumption of the countries shall be based on renewable energy. The government will strive to make Denmark go even further than this with an ambitious target that 50 % of Denmark's energy demand should be covered by renewable energy by 2030.

As part of the implementation of the 2030 framework, the EU Commission published, on 20 July 2016 its proposition for the member states' binding, annual reductions of greenhouse gases from 2021-2030 - also known as the proposition of burden sharing of the EU reduction target for the non-quota sector by 30 % by 2030 as compared to 2005. As per the Commission's proposal, each individual member state must take on national reduction targets of greenhouse gases for 2030 within a range from 0-40 % as compared to 2005. In the proposition a reduction target of 39 % by 2030 is imposed upon Denmark as compared to 2005. This reduction target is still under negotiation, but the government is ready to accept an ambitious 2030 target as to reduction out of the quota system.


The government's 2050 target                               

The government's ambition is that by 2050 Denmark will be a low-emission society, independent of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas. This means that by 2050 Denmark will be able to produce renewable energy sufficient to cover the total Danish energy consumption. Consequently, energy supply and the transport sector must be readjusted to be based on renewable energy sources such as e.g. wind, solar energy, biofuels and thermal energy.A reduction of the consumption of fossil fuels in the energy supply for electricity, heating, industrial processing and transport will imply considerable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The government's ambition is therefore to be seen as an important contribution to the fulfilment of the EU ambition to reduce the greenhouse gas emission within the EU by 80-95 % by 2050 as compared to 1990.Apart from that, the transition to renewable energy sources will also contribute to maintaining and developing the power position of Danish companies in the field of energy, climate and environmental technology and thereby make use of the increasing global demand for green technologies to create growth and jobs.


The Danish Law on climate

The law on climate was passed on 11 June 2014 by a majority consisting of the Social Democratic Party, Radikale Venstre (the Danish Social-Liberal Party), Socialistisk Folkeparti (the Danish Socialist People's Party), Enhedslisten (the Unity List) and Konservativt Folkeparti (the Conservative People's Party).The law on climate establishes a general strategic framework for Denmark's climate policy in order to turning Denmark to a low emission society by 2050 – which means a resource efficient society with an energy supply based on renewable energy and significantly less emission of greenhouse gases from other sectors. 

Contents of the law:

  1. Establishment of an independent, professionally based Climate Council.
  2. Annual climate political report to the parliament.
  3. Process of setting national climate targets.




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Louise Sprotte-Hansen

Head of Section
Climate Office