Stockholm (NordSIP) – The government of Denmark has rolled out its new climate and clean air initiative (Tuesday, October 9th) designed to put Denmark on course reach its EU climate goals by 2030, as well as working towards a climate-neutral Denmark by 2050, in which the country would absorb at least as much greenhouse gas as it emits.
The “Together for a greener future” proposal suggests 38 concrete initiatives to ensure cleaner transport in cities and in the countryside, efficient and modern agriculture, more environmentally friendly shipping and a green transition within housing and industry.
Among the key initiatives are to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, attain zero carbon emissions and zero air pollution from busses in Danish cities by 2030, a climate- and environmentally-efficient agricultural sector with a strong focus on research, stricter environmental zones in cities to safeguard clean air, lower emissions from industry and housing, climate labelling, and research efforts to develop carbon capture and storage technologies for use in Denmark’s fields and forests.
“Denmark must remain a world leader in green initiatives,” Minister for energy, Utilities and Climate Lars Christian Lilleholt said in a press release. “By setting new climate and environment standards, we inspire others to take action and help shape developments in Europe and around the world. With the climate and air proposal ‘Together for a greener future’, the government takes the next step towards a Denmark where the air is clean, and where we will eventually reduce our negative climate impact to zero.”
“We are clamping down on emissions, noise and pollution in Denmark’s biggest cities to protect the health of Danes. We will ensure cleaner air in the big cities by instituting stricter environmental zones, banning older, polluting lorries, busses and vans from our city streets. We’re introducing a scrap premium for old diesel cars and wood-burning stoves so that we can get new and less polluting models on the market. At sea, we will hunt down ships that violate fuel regulations to prevent sulphur pollution in the air over Denmark,” added Minister for Environment and Food Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.
The initiative has already met with criticism, however, in terms of coming up short in light of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change bombshell report published Monday, October 8th suggesting there is only a dozen years left to prevent severe climate change. In addition, the Danish opposition claims the initiative focuses overly on the transportation sector, which accounts for roughly just a third of CO2emissions, while the agricultural sector (which constitutes a considerable part of the government’s support) is targeted markedly less in the government’s initiatives.
Sebastian Mernild, Professor of Glaciology and Climate Change and director of the Nansen Center research institute in Bergen, also points out three specific areas of action that should be central to the government’s air and climate initiatives to bring it into line with the recommendations from the IPCC report.
First, he emphasises the need to invest more money in research itself. Despite an announcement from the government that it intends to allocate DKK 90 million to research into cost-effective solutions for Danish agriculture, it would be more important to invest in research to determine how to extirpate CO2 from the atmosphere and to be able to predict and prepare for the consequences of climate change. “There is no separate national climate center in Denmark extensively researching in atmospheric and oceanographic conditions,” Mernild told Information, a newspaper. “It’s not enough just to throw 30, 40 or 50 million at climate research per year [and hope it sticks].”
Second, Mernild doesn’t think it will suffice to make green cars cheaper to meet the government’s target of phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030 without simultaneously lowering taxes on green cars. And third, Mernild calls for more social frameworks and regulations to steer consumers to consume food more sustainably, among other things by lowering meat consumption and promoting local food production rather than global food consumption.
“[From the perspective of the carbon footprint], it’s patently absurd to eat avocados produced in Chile during the winter of strawberries produced in southern Spain,” Mernild said. “Politicians need to understand the seriousness of the situation in relation to consumer mentalities and begin legislating from above.”
Image: Sirirak Boonruangjak – Pexels.