Danish Citizens Take Action on Climate Change
In 2018 we saw countless examples of the extreme consequences of climate change all over the world. Denmark also felt these consequences first hand with a record breaking hot summer. There’s no knowing whether this correlates to the overwhelming support for the new citizen proposal for a Danish Climate Law or not. However, it is safe to say that the backing sends a strong message to the government.
The proposal was first published on Borgerforslaget.dk on January 16th. Within only 13 days, out of the 180 days given, the proposal got the 50.000 signatures required to pass and will now be processed by the Danish Parliament.
For a law to pass in Parliament it has to be processed three times, and the minimum processing time is 30 days. This is to ensure a thorough consideration and elaboration of the law, and to ensure that it will not just be a result of a current mood in society.
According to the proposal, the proposed climate law should include the following:
- Denmark must meet its climate targets to meet the Paris Agreement
- Five-year milestones should be set looking ahead at least 15 years
- The climate agenda should be intertwined in other areas of policy
- The climate council should be strengthened and made independent
- Denmark must invest in developing green solutions
- Denmark must be a driving force in international climate politics
The current government is opposing a one-to-one implementation of the proposal. However frustrating this may seem, it isn’t necessarily an entirely bad thing. This creates the potential for the upcoming election campaigns to have a greater focus on climate policies, possibly creating an even stronger framework for the law.
Rules Need to Be Changed to Fight Climate Change
In her 2018 TEDxStockholm talk Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old climate activist from Sweden, talked about the extreme amounts of oil being used today. She stated how “there are no politics to change that, there are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.” She continued by saying “(So) we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.”
It is increasingly apparent that there is a strong demand from the people of Denmark to push for a more ambitious climate policy. The CO2 emission reduction targets from the Paris agreement are not ambitious enough. Furthermore, there is a growing notion nationally that Denmark should be a front-runner when it comes to climate action.
The current minister of energy, utilities and climate, Lars Christian Lilleholt has stated that he feels there is a potential pitfall in lawmaking, as it can sometimes become a somewhat symbolic act that does not change much in reality. Now, you could argue that that means there is probably something wrong with the political system, but that’s another discussion. Whether it is simply an excuse to not implement the proposal I’m not sure – but even if so, it only underlines the pressing need for action. Action – not discussion!
To a certain extent I can see what Lilleholt means, but at the same time I think it is vital to adjust the market conditions so that it pays off to not pollute in order to endorse environmentally sustainable businesses and encourage sustainable innovation. Climate action needs to happen in a simultaneous bottom-up and top-down approach, with tangible and substantial actions from the people, the businesses and the government.
The UK Climate Change Act Is a Model for the World
The UK put the Climate Change Act (CCA) in place in 2008, with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050. The Act includes legally binding emissions targets, limiting the amount of greenhouse gasses the UK can emit over a five-year period (much like what the Danish Climate Law proposes). The CCA has helped create the foundation for a better political debate on climate change, as it provides tangible targets and indicators, has a defined review process as well as a specialist committee. It has also been a source of inspiration for other nations to follow in their footstep and develop their own Climate Act.
The increasing interest in the matter and the necessity for action shows that the Danish public truly care. It goes hand-in-hand with conscious consumerism. While we are already seeing an increase in the number of people who want to support sustainable/green businesses, I think it’s safe to say that those numbers will only increase from now on. There is a high demand for action, and a serious momentum surrounding climate action. It is a fast pace movement, and companies will need to act today to be relevant in the future.
If the proposed climate law (or even an altered version of it) passes, it will set stricter regulations for CO2 emissions. Such legal initiatives would disrupt the current markets. They would make product prices increase, giving sustainably conscious companies a clear competitive advantage. Such regulations would also create great incentives and rewards for green innovation – something that Denmark is proud to brand itself on.
A National Framework Could Strengthen Denmark’s Position in Green Economy
The framework for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) has definitely sparked innovation around the world, and I personally can’t wait to see what the future holds. There is no doubt that a national framework would strengthen Denmark’s position in the green economy. Moreover, it would send a strong (and much needed) message to the rest of the world, that we are serious about taking responsibility and leading the way to a sustainable future.
And to quote Greta Thunberg’s COP24 speech: “The real power belongs to the people”.