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Danish municipalities to reduce emissions by 76% by 2030

A new study of 92 Danish municipalities unveils a common commitment to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 76% by 2030. The study underlines the importance of local efforts to spur national green transition.
26 September 2023

A new analysis (danish article) maps out the CO2 reduction efforts of the 92 municipalities that have outlined climate action plans in alignment with C40 standards. The common objective shared by the municipalities is a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 76% by 2030 when compared to the levels recorded in 1990.

To achieve this goal, almost all municipalities are actively engaged in a range of initiatives spanning various sectors such as transport, agriculture, procurement, and energy. Jointly, these initiatives are projected to result in a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to a total of 48.5 million tonnes.

This coordinated effort among the municipalities highlights a commitment to addressing the pressing issue of climate change and exemplifies a collective dedication to creating a more sustainable future.

“The analysis clearly shows what it is that the municipalities can contribute in relation to the national climate effort. It is unique in an international context that the country’s municipalities are working together towards climate neutrality by 2050. Now, the municipalities face the crucial task of turning the ambitious plans into concrete action, so that they may contribute to the common task of reducing CO2 emissions,” says Jesper Nygård, Managing Director of Realdania.

Today, around 90 municipalities have successfully secured political approval for their climate action plans, with the remaining municipalities anticipated to achieve their goals by the end of 2023 and 2024. Denmark stands out as a global exemplar, being the sole country to have achieved such significant progress at the municipal level in formulating concrete objectives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Local efforts are crucial for national progress

The municipalities’ reductions are envisioned as a collaborative effort bridging national initiatives, especially in terms of the decarbonisation of the electricity grid, and the local actions, such as expanding the district heating network.

The municipalities expect to achieve the greatest results in the transformation of the energy sector with a primary focus on expanding the district heating networks, abolishing oil and gas boilers in private homes, and setting up wind turbines as well as solar cell systems.

Another focus is similarly set on the agricultural and land use sector, as municipalities are directing their efforts towards activities such as reclaiming low-lying and advancing afforestation efforts.

In terms of the transportation sector, the municipalities are focusing on various strategies, most notably the electrification of public transport systems, as well as promoting sustainable transportation habits.

Materialising Danish legislation

In order to achieve their goals, the municipalities are dependent on changes in the national framework which support the local efforts. Improving the national framework conditions can, therefore, make it possible for the municipalities to achieve even greater reductions within, i.e., the transport and agricultural areas.

Here, the municipalities, as well as the regions, are particularly dependent on national legislation, which can pave the way for climate action. This requires a strong and close cooperation between the state, the regions, and the municipalities in order to successfully implement climate change actions.

“The green transition requires both rapid decarbonisation of all sectors and at the same time a deep transformation of society. This analysis shows that municipalities play an important role in both implementing and developing climate initiatives and accelerating the transition. They accomplish their objective best if the efforts take place in close cooperation with regions and the state, where everyone makes their contribution to the necessary transition,” says Christian Ibsen, Director of CONCITO.

An alliance ensuring action

Local Government Denmark, Realdania, and the five regions launched the Climate Alliance earlier this year, which is a common and visionary foundation for climate action in Denmark.

The Climate Alliance strives to assist the municipalities in achieving their climate action plans as well as promoting transversal climate cooperation between municipalities and the regions, that can contribute to the larger scale Danish climate goals.

The parties in the Climate Alliance must form the framework for a development space and contribute resources and knowledge towards solving concrete challenges, which the municipalities and regions face.

“The analysis clearly shows that the municipalities’ efforts are crucial for us to reach the government’s climate goals. Our towering level of ambition for the green transition is important for the entire country’s climate action, and the great climate effect we can deliver together with regions, the state, and citizens,” says Frank Schmidt-Hansen, Chairman of the Municipalities’ Climate Action Committee and Mayor of Vejen Municipality.

“Climate action plans are an effective path to a green transition. Via the Climate Alliance, municipalities and regions collaborate to get existing and new climate efforts into top gear. Because quick action is needed. At the same time, we need to learn more about what works. And we must involve the citizens when we go from planning to action for the climate in all parts of the country. Citizens must be part of the dialogue, regardless of whether it concerns energy transition, consumption, transport, or agriculture,” says Mads Duedahl, Chairman of the Committee for Environment and Climate in the Danish Regions and Deputy Chairman of the Climate Alliance’s Executive Committee.

Municipalities of Denmark

Denmark is divided into five regions containing 98 municipalities, which have the right to manage their own affairs independently under State supervision. The municipalities play a pivotal role in Denmark’s green efforts, as they execute concrete objectives on a communal level.

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