Bold energy plan to end reliance on fossil fuels

Denmark forges ahead to become entirely reliant on renewable energy by 2050, while global efforts to decrease emissions looks increasingly bleak

An energy plan to end DenmarkÂ’s reliance on fossil fuels by 2050 and move energy production over to windmills and biomass was launched this Friday by the government.

But while the climate plan might bode well for DenmarkÂ’s green credentials and self-sufficient future, in the short term workplaces may be lost.

The plan is likely to be expensive for both tax-payers and businesses, and so to prevent companies from moving jobs to lower cost countries, a fund has been established to help subsidise the switchover.

Under the terms of the plan, 250 million kroner a year will be made available until 2014 after which it will rise to 500 million kroner.

“[The plan] should not have an affect on the number of people employed by Danish businesses,” the climate minister, Martin Lidegaard (Radikale), said at the press conference announcing the plan.

Lidegaard added that the plan is designed to combat the economic crisis, resource crisis and the climate crisis at the same time.

“We want to address all three crises at once. It doesn’t make any sense to solve the economic crisis if that affects the climate crisis and vice versa.”

Lidegaard could not guarantee, however, that some jobs might be lost due to the plan though should a significant number of jobs disappear, the government would reassess its plans.

“I can guarantee that we have put a lot of effort into the plan so I’m quite sure that won’t be the case. But it requires co-operation from the businesses.”

The energy plan has set some ambitious targets that will see renewable energy sources take over Danish electricity and heat production while oil, coal and gas will slowly be phased out.

Targets set out in the plan will see half of all energy production derived from wind by 2020, a phasing out of coal in 2030, all electricity and heat being produced by renewable energy by 2035 with the rest of Denmark’s energy requirements – such as in transport and industry – coming from renewables by 2050.

Should Denmark reach the first target in 2020, DenmarkÂ’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 35 percent compared with 1990 levels.

In the energy plan it is acknowledged that several technological barriers – such as electricity storage, creation of intelligent grids and the development of new renewable energy technologies – need to be overcome before all of the country’s energy needs can be met by renewable resources.

To meet these demands, the government is making 100 million kroner available over four years for investment in new forms of sustainable energy production, an initiative the government hopes will create jobs in the green sector.

“In the future Denmark will survive by selling – amongst other things – green technology and solutions to the rest of the world,” the government writes in the energy plan. “So when we invest in green ideas and new technologies that can’t yet compete in the market, we are also investing in the future.”

But while both the WWF and Greenpeace praised DenmarkÂ’s efforts, the global outlook for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is looking increasingly bleak.

In the run up to the COP 17 meeting in Durban this week – the latest in the series of United Nations conferences on climate change – EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard admitted that major global emitters were unlikely to reach a deal on emissions this decade.

“We understand that Brazil, China and other large developing nations need time to develop,” Hedegaard said, according to Politiken. “That requires growth so they need a period to be allowed to release more greenhouse gasses. But we should have a system in place by 2020 at the latest which the large developing nations and the US commit themselves to.”

External link: Climate and Energy Ministry: Securing Denmark’s energy future

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