Denmark Lays the ZCAP Groundwork

8 October 2010

Copenhagen brings back many memories. Long, freezing queues outside the Bella Centre, a COP president oblivious to basic UN procedures, and most importantly, no FAB (fair, ambitious, binding) deal.

Who would think that Denmark, less than a year later, would be the place making
ambitious progress in the fight against climate change!

Only a fool would hesitate to invest today in a rapid and complete transition to a fossil fuel free economy. This was pretty much the message from the Danish Climate Commission to the government when asked about the possibilities of phasing out fossil fuels in Denmark by 2050.

The commission’s report concluded that the long term additional costs of becoming fossil fuel independent would be ‘in the order of 0.5% of Denmark’s GDP in 2050’.  However, they went on, the conversion must start now in order to ensure cost efficiency.

The commission adopted 40 concrete recommendations, including expansion of offshore wind capacity by 200 MW annually on average in 2015-2025.  Neither CCS nor nuclear power is included in the vision, primarily because both were deemed to be cost-prohibitive.

So far, the Prime Minister’s response is that Denmark should increase the use of wind power, biomass and electric vehicles, although a concrete follow-up plan — a Zero Carbon Action Plan (ZCAP) — has yet to be presented.  But further, the Prime Minister now also supports the demand to raise the level of ambition in the EU, moving from a 20% to a 30% reduction target on 1990 levels by 2020.

The Danish opposition and NGOs are now pushing for the government to produce an ambitious and concrete ZCAP as a response to the recommendations from the commission. Whether that will be delivered is yet to be seen, but chances are that the Danish government is waking up and discovering that the race to the green future has already begun.

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