David Kennedy

Denmark follows UK example

Denmark is currently in the process of drafting legislation modelled on the UK’s Climate Change Act. I recently went over to Copenhagen to share our experiences and learn about the Danish context.

I spoke at the Concito annual conference; Concito is a green think tank which provides analysis of the cost-effective path to a low-carbon economy, and comprises over 100 companies, organisations and individuals.

I also spoke at a conference to discuss the Danish Climate Change Act, at which there were around forty experts from professional organisations, government departments, NGOs and universities.

Denmark has already made good progress reducing emissions through investment in renewable power and heat generation, and energy efficiency improvement.

It is committed to building on this, reducing emissions by 40% in 2020 relative to 1990 (compared to the UK’s 34% commitment); achieving a 35% share of renewable energy by this time (compared to the UK’s 15%), and 50% share of wind in power generation (the UK is aiming for up to 20%); and reducing energy consumption by 7.6% in 2020 compared to 2010 (the UK does not have a target for energy efficiency improvement, but should aim to reduce energy consumption by at least this much).

The Danish draft legislation envisages the setting up of an independent statutory body to assess progress towards these goals and longer term climate objectives; it does not propose to put these goals in legislation, relying instead on political agreements.

My talks focused on our experience setting up the CCC. I emphasised the importance of several aspects I consider fundamental to CCC’s success: a clear mandate set out in legislation; board members who are technical experts rather than representatives of interest groups; that the organisation is appropriately resourced; taking an approach based on evidence and analysis; and that the body is public facing, transparent, and continuously talking with the full range of stakeholders (i.e. government, business, NGOs, academics, expert bodies).

I also highlighted our key achievements: designing the 2050 target (i.e. to reduce emissions by at least 80% versus 1990), and identifying a cost-effective path to achieving this; getting this embodied in legislated carbon budgets; and instigating new polices such as the Electricity Market Reform to incentivise investments required to be on this path.

I hope that the Danish legislation reflects these considerations and establishes a body which is able to cut through short term politics, and help to identify an economically sensible Danish response. Adopting this approach in Denmark and other countries around the world would provide more confidence that globally we can achieve our shared climate objectives, reducing risks of dangerous climate change in the most economically sensible way.

For more information watch this short video interview.

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