Denmark Denmark

Denmark ranks 4th and becomes the frontrunner in this year’s CCPI. The country marks an overall high performance.

As in the last year’s CCPI, Denmark has high ratings in the GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy, and Climate Policy categories; it ranks in the top 10 for each. In GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy, Denmark is up two spots, and in Climate Policy it is up three from last year. It marks a medium rating in the Energy Use category. Notably, its performance in the indicator for a Renewable Energy 2030 Target compared to a well-below-2°C benchmark is low.

In 2020, Denmark committed to a 2030 target of a 70% emissions reduction compared with 1990 levels and it aims at climate neutrality by 2050. The CCPI experts note that Denmark’s climate target is in line with the Paris Agreement. The independent Danish Council on Climate Change (DCCC), under the Danish Climate Act, charged with assessing whether government policies sufficiently match the target. After the first year with the 70% target, the DCCC assessment concluded that the initiatives and measures were inadequate and needed improvement. Potential areas for improvement are notes in the agriculture and transport sectors. The CCPI experts see shortcomings in policies addressing electric vehicles and policies to move Denmark away from biomass. Denmark relies heavily on biomass as an energy source and the Danish experts see a need for a wood biomass phase-out.

In partnership with Costa Rica, Denmark launched the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance this year, aimed at moving more countries away from extracting fossil fuel. Denmark is among the progressive players in climate policy. Domestically, the experts consider Denmark’s climate neutrality goal should be brought forward from the current 2050 to reach neutrality by 2040.

National experts that contributed to the policy evaluation of this year’s CCPI chose to remain anonymous

Technical note: how to read the target comparison graph

The graph above shows the development of a country over the past years compared with its Paris compatible pathway and 2030 target. For all three quantitative categories of the CCPI, this visualisation gives an overview of where a country is right now, where it would need to be to fulfil the Paris Agreement promises and where it aims to be in 2030.

For GHG emissions per capita, the data includes LULUCF, as used for the emissions per capita indicator. This leads to the vast changes in emissions of some countries with high forest coverage. The calculation of individual country target pathways is based on the common but differentiated convergence approach (CDC). It is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” laid forth in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. All Annex I countries therefore have a decreasing pathway from 1990 onwards, starting at that year’s emissions. 60 years later, in 2050, these countries are expected to reach net zero emissions. All other countries, which did not reach the level of global average emissions in 1990, are allowed to increase emissions until the average is reached. But by latest 2015 these countries, too, have decreasing pathways and 60 years to reach net zero. These pathways start from the global average.

The Renewable Energy data is given in per cent of Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) and includes hydro energy, consistent with the respective CCPI indicator. As global distribution of Renewables (especially solar and wind) only started in the 2000s, the pathways in this category start in 2010. All countries have an equal goal: 100% Renewables in 2050, each starting from its 2010 value.

For Energy Use the Primary Energy Supply per capita is shown. All pathways for this category start at country’s 1990 values and meet at global average of 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES. For 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios, a decrease in emissions by reducing the (growth in) energy use is as crucial as deploying renewable (or other low-carbon) technologies. The IPCC carried out a scenario comparison using a large number of integrated assessment models. From the scenarios available, we observe that the total amount of global energy use in 2050 has to be roughly the same level or a bit higher than it is today, with a margin of uncertainty. At the same time population will grow slightly between today and 2050. We therefore pragmatically chose the well-below-2° compatible benchmark to be “same energy use per capita in 2050 as the current global average”, which is 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.