Danish climate efforts in international perspective

Published 30 october 2015
The Danish Council on Climate Change has carried out an analysis which shows that Denmark is not spearheading the green transition, but rather lies in the middle of a group of ambitious countries with which we normally compare ourselves.

The Danish Council on Climate Change has carried out an analysis which shows that Denmark is not spearheading the green transition, but rather lies in the middle of a group of ambitious countries with which we normally compare ourselves.

It is often claimed in the Danish debate that Denmark's climate efforts are far ahead of all other countries. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the most important yardstick for climate action, and therefore the Danish Council on Climate Change undertook a comparison of the Danish climate initiatives with efforts being implemented by 10 other wealthy countries. The comparison shows that while Denmark has reduced its emissions significantly, this is largely the result of lower economic growth than in the other countries and not so much due to the green restructuring of the economy.

If one focuses on the contribution to this reduction which is made by the green transition, Denmark ranks in fourth place out of the analysis of 11 countries behind the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands. This contribution measures the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to GDP, a measurement which assesses the action required to allow us to produce more without emitting additional greenhouse gases.

The Danish GDP growth rate has been low compared with other countries in the analysis, and this low growth has made it easier for us to lower greenhouse gas emissions which has in turn reduced demand for the green transition in the form of changed consumption patterns and an increased use of renewable energy technologies. The Danish GDP has averaged growth of 1.5 per cent per year from 1990 to 2012 while in Sweden, for example, this figure was 2.0 per cent.

Focusing solely on the real reduction of greenhouse gases, Denmark takes second place, but this is largely due to the fact that Denmark has had low growth.

A working paper and fact sheet on Denmark's climate efforts in an international context can be downloaded from the menu.

The subject of Denmark's climate efforts in an international context is also addressed in the Danish Council on Climate Change report Converting with care - status and challenges for Danish climate policy.

Read the first report by Danish Council on Climate Change here​