The writer of one of the ambitious climate plans in the European Union says 2020 used to be a turning point that’s left him optimistic approximately the way forward for the planet.
Despite the fact that the year showed the scale of the effort needed — with temperatures rising despite lockdowns across the world that brought most economies to a virtual standstill — Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen says there’s cause to be more upbeat. He points to the EU’s latest climate deal and america election, which will bring the world’s biggest economy back into the Paris agreement.
“It is significant that closing down our societies has not led us anywhere close the level of reductions we need, so behavioral changes alone won’t do it,” Jorgensen said in an interview in Copenhagen. But while the analysis is regularly negative, “there are reasons for optimism and to celebrate as polite,” he said.
Jorgensen ended the year with a pledge to cease oil exploration in the EU’s biggest crude producer. The move prompted Greenpeace to say, “this is what climate leadership looks like,” and is a part of a plan to slash 70% off Denmark’s carbon emissions by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. More ambitious than the 55% targeted by the EU, it puts the Danes at the absolute forefront of the bloc’s efforts to offer protection to the surroundings.
The pandemic triggered a wave of fiscal relief that’s opened the door to probably the most boldest climate initiatives yet. Eight of the world’s 10 largest economies, including China and Japan, have set goals to succeed in net-zero emission inside decades. US President-elect Joe Biden wants america to be carbon impartial by 2050.
“We’re going to spend billions of euros on economic recovery in Europe and whether we are smart and invest in green infrastructure and energy efficiency, something good can in fact come of this,” Jorgensen said.
Denmark’s path toward a carbon-neutral economy suggests there are financial rewards to be reaped. The country started making an investment heavily in wind energy in the 1970s. It now gets more than 40% of its electricity from wind power.
Denmark is home to the world’s biggest wind-turbine maker, Vestas Wind Systems A/S, and the world’s top developer of offshore wind parks, Orsted A/S. The latter, which is half owned by the government, started off as a state oil and gas producer, but reinvented itself half a decade ago. Since then, its value has soared approximately 430%.
Except for Denmark’s decision to phase out its North Sea oil production, and end it completely by 2050, the country made several other commitments in 2020. These include plans to build two islands to house the infrastructure for new offshore wind farms, helping Denmark move closer to its final goal of generating all its electricity from renewable energy sources.
The Social Democrat government Jorgensen is a part of has also had its critics in the case of the climate. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has been accused of shying absent from the use of taxes to steer consumers and businesses toward environmentally friendly behavior. And efforts to raise electric vehicles were slammed for missing ambition.
But the government has argued that making an investment in new technologies will in the end prove one of the simplest ways to cause approximately change.
Jorgensen says policy makers wish to retain the public on their side. He points to France, where protesters in 2018 donned yellow vests and took to the roads for months after being angered by hikes in fuel prices.
The high cost of achieving climate goals means “we wish to think tough approximately how to approach it,” Jorgensen said. The hope is that Denmark can develop into a mannequin for others to follow, he said.
“Whether our plan would result in a decline in production or closing down some industries, no other countries would think our plan used to be a good suggestion.”