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From black to green

When the 1973 oil crisis struck, Denmark was one of the OECD countries most dependent on oil for its energy supply. With more than 90% of its national energy supplies based on imported oil, the surging prices hit a key nerve in the society and marked a turning point in Denmark’s energy policies. Virtually overnight, the crisis spurred a push to diversify the national energy mix. As such, the establishment of a new regulatory regime was considered a precondition for a successful reorientation of the energy sector.

Now, we want to share our experiences and help others towards a more sustainable, low-carbon, and resource-efficient society.

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Denmark's green transition

Like many countries, Denmark was once entirely dependent on imported fossil fuels. Today, many consider Denmark a global green frontrunner.

Video credits: Denmark.dk

Here is what we learned

Green business is good business
Investing in renewable energy, water and energy efficiency, and resource optimisation makes good economic sense. Since 1980, Denmark has managed to decouple its economic growth from its overall energy consumption. In four decades, the national GDP has more than doubled while energy consumption has only increased by 6 %. Over the same period, water consumption decreased by 40%. The numbers prove that it is possible to create growth without using more energy.

Denmark has fostered several companies and institutions that hold globally leading positions across the green industries: Ørsted, Vestas, Grundfos, Danfoss, Ramboll, Velux, CIP, CO-industri, PensionDenmark, BWSC, 3F, and Rockwool, just to mention a few. Today, more than 75,000 people hold ”green jobs” out of a national workforce of 2.75 million people. The realisation of the Danish 2030 climate target may create up to 300,000 green jobs.

Public-private partnerships
A catalyst in Denmark’s green transition is the strong tradition of entering into public-private partnerships. The notion of public-private partnerships has allowed shifting Danish governments to enact regulations and programs with the support of business and industry, thereby ensuring their successful implementation and adherence.

Broad political agreements
A key factor in the success of Denmark’s decision to heighten its energy security has been its approach to policymaking, where long-term agreements with a broad consensus across the political spectrum and the support of industry are devised on energy and environmental issues. This means that policies remain unchanged even when the government changes. The ensuing political stability has helped secure continuous investment and solutions to many of the nation’s sustainable development challenges.

Sector integration
Trustful collaboration across sectors and industries has long been a key ingredient in the Danish way of doing business. Through decades of working across professional boundaries, Denmark has learned that effective sector integration requires trust, a pragmatic approach, and an experimental mindset.

Societal collaboration
The high levels of societal trust that exist in Denmark, and an open, dialogue-based approach to solving challenges such as climate change have reinforced the partnership approach. While the public sector provides ambitious long-term goals and stable framework conditions, the private sector supplies innovation and solutions to achieve the visions.