Denmark has passed an ambitious law that makes it illegal to not act on climate change.
The country’s new law, called the Climate Act, aims to ensure that Denmark will reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent in 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The law also aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Climate Act sets milestone targets that tackle global warming. Every five years, the Danish government must set legally binding targets with a ten-year perspective.
“[T]he Climate Act is finally passed in the Parliament! A good day for the climate,” Denmark’s climate minister Dan Jørgensen wrote on Twitter.
The government must produce a Climate Action Plan each year to show what it’s doing to meet these targets. The plan must outline concrete policies the government is enforcing to reduce emissions in a number of sectors. These include energy, housing, transportation, and agriculture sectors.
Jørgensen told the BBC that the government will be held accountable for failing to reach these targets.
“The government will be held to account every year by the parliament,” Jørgensen said. “If you’re not on track, the parliament can say, ‘Well, sorry, you’re not on track so you don’t get a majority.’ In theory, that will lead to a government having to step down.”
Denmark Tackles Global Warming
In January 2019, a group of nonprofits launched a petition urging Denmark to adopt a climate law. The petition aimed to bring the country in line with the Paris Agreement. More than 50,000 people signed the petition within the first week.
Although the petition didn’t gain backing by the Danish parliament, it did generate a climate movement the government couldn’t ignore. Once the country’s elections rolled around in June, climate policy had become a hot topic in the election.
“The parties kind of overbid each other in their climate ambitions in order to win the election,” Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen explained. Qvist-Sørensen is the general secretary of DanChurchAid, one of a group of NGOs behind the petition.
“Denmark has now an ambitious climate law that sets a clear direction for Denmark’s green transition in the future,” Qvist-Sørensen said. “The climate law also sends an important signal to the rest of the world that Denmark is stepping-up its efforts to stop climate change before it is too late.”