A cynic might be forgiven for wondering whether citizen petitions are anything more than pure political window dressing: so far, nearly all of them have been rejected by Parliament.
Yesterday the petition started on January 16 demanding new and tougher measures to fight climate change, which was signed in record time by 65,000 Danes, also received the coup de grace, reports Politiken.
Among other things, the petitioners proposed a six-point plan to ensure that Denmark increases its contribution to attaining the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. It also included five-year milestones set out for at least 15 years, as well as climate considerations being integrated into other areas of policy.
A broader hearing needed
Damning the petitioners with faint praise, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen thanked them for their many good ideas, but said he would not be pushed into action before a broader hearing had taken place – and that would probably only be after Parliament’s summer holiday.
Rasmussen also argued that although 65,000 people had signed the petition together with 11 NGOs representing 250,000 people, “there are after all 5.5 million other Danes out there and I also want to engage in a dialogue with them”.
Toeing the PM’s line, the climate and energy minister, Lars Christian Lilleholt, “would not rule out” the idea of five-year milestones but would not agree at this point to be bound by individual elements of the petition.
More than just hot air
A number of opposition parties backed the petition’s demand that the government’s climate watchdog Klimarådet ought to have its independence secured and that climate considerations should be integrated into all new legislative proposals, as well as the five-year milestones.
Troels Dam Christensen, the secretariat head of the NGO grouping 92-Gruppen, was not happy.
“We are of course really happy that both the opposition and the government can see that there is a need for a new climate law, but we don’t think it’s a good idea to wait until after an election. Action needs to be taken now,” he said.