My last column on these pages was written prior to the Danish General Election that took place this June, and at the time I was concerned as to the extent to which the extreme rhetoric concerning immigration would dominate debate at the expense of the climate crisis.
These concerns proved to be unfounded, and we now have one of the most ambitious governments anywhere in the world with regards to targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
despite the wave of green optimism that resulted from the vote, there remain serious concerns about how the government will develop an agenda to achieve a 70 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. There are no concrete plans with regard to achieving this target.
At the same time, an IPCC Special Report on Global Warming released to coincide with the UN Climate Action Summit describes a 50/50 chance of meeting the 1.5 percent temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels, and only a 10 percent chance based on currently announced measures to tackle climate change. The odds are not in our favour.
The issue of ambition versus evidence was also evident at the Børsen 2019 Sustainability Conference in early October 2019. The vast majority of carbon emissions come from the private sector – with 100 companies responsible for 70 percent of global emissions according to the Carbon Majors Report from the Carbon Disclosure Project.
Whilst it is therefore heartening to hear companies such as Novozymes, Mærsk, SAS and others outline their ambitious plans for reaching 70 percent reduction targets, these plans are incomplete and based more on aspiration than a plan of action.
Action before pessimism
Yet there are grounds for optimism. Chr Hansen, the Danish bioscience company, was recently named ‘The Most Sustainable Company in the World’ at the World Economic Forum. Denmark is also leading the pack with regards to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
There is understandably a degree of cynicism with regards to both public and private measures to tackle climate change. Nevertheless, negativity with regards to the challenges will not help.
As a colleague of mine said at the Børsen Conference: “The time for pessimism is over.” Now is the time for action.