Stockholm (NordSIP) – Denmark is being criticised for being “unambitious” and “absent from the climate debate” despite the government consistently labelling itself as being at the forefront of said debate, according to a front page item in today’s Politiken broadsheet.
According to Wendel Trio, director of the large Brussels NGO Climate Action Network, “Denmark no longer has a leading role [globally]. It did previously, but it has not been visible in the climate debate the past few years.”
Trio suggested that when Denmark in recent years has been invited to contribute to proposals by other EU countries for new ambitious climate goals, it has turned invitations down. For example, when Sweden and France led seven countries in suggesting increasing the 2030 targets for climate and green energy, Denmark cited conflicting priorities for not participating.
It is, rather, now countries like France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Portugal, with to a lesser extent Germany and Luxembourg, who are taking the lead, according to Trio.
“The earlier government was quite ambitious, so this is not the role we have come to expect of Denmark,” Trio added.
For his part, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen told the Danish parliament in its last session before summer recess last week: “I have not said that we are as green as previous governments. I have said that we are greener.” That Denmark is recognised globally worldwide as one of the world’s leading climate nations is an article of faith for Danish leaders of any political stripe.
Climate Action Network publishes an annual index of the climate policies of 57 different countries, where one of the central points is an annual snapshot of how ambitious a sitting government is. Denmark’s government sat at precipitous position 42, three positions after Poland and only slightly higher than Saudi Arabia.
The criticisms also echo a controversial statement signed several weeks ago by 301 leading Danish academics that Denmark is among the worst contributors to climate change, despite the popular narrative of Denmark as one of the world’s greenest countries. The average Danish CO2 footprint is among the highest in the world, they contend, despite the country’s relative energy efficiency. This is due competing consumption and economic patterns of behaviour and, not least, the role of politicians in obfuscating what needs to be done, they suggest.
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch MEP and member of the EPP, the same grouping the Danish government belongs to, also called Danish politics ‘a big disappointment’.
“The Danish government is quite absent in the climate debate,” Gerbrandy, who worked with the CO2 quota scheme, said. “In every discussion we have had with the Council, Denmark played no role, whether positive or negative. It just followed the majority. So I wouldn’t call Denmark a leader on climate issues.”
Denmark Energy and Climate minister Lars Christian Lilleholt took the criticisms in stride.
“It would be a surprise to me, if NGOs and EU parliamentarians didn’t think we should be doing even more. That’s what they’re there to do, and I’m actually happy that they’re pushing European countries to do more on climate policy. I might nevertheless disagree that they’re targeting Danish climate leadership, which I don’t think is justified.”
“There is a sea of different climate initiatives that Denmark is part of.”
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