CO2 emissions dropped sharply in 2012

While new figures confirm that Denmark successfully reduced its carbon emissions in 2012, the EU takes first steps toward setting carbon reduction targets for 2030

Improved energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption have resulted in a significant drop in CO2 emissions in 2012 according to new figures from the Climate Ministry.

The climate, energy and buildings minister, Martin Lidegaard (Radikale), stated in a press release that he was encouraged by the new figures that show Denmark is on track with its plan to adopt more renewable energy and reduce energy consumption.

“We’ve seen sharp declines in CO2 emissions, while at the same time we are using more renewable energy and we have become more energy efficient,” Lidegaard said. “Coal, oil and natural gas consumption, on the other hand, has declined. That’s good news for the climate.”

Observed CO2 emissions fell 10.3 percent in 2012 compared with the previous year. Emissions fell 4.4 percent once adjusted for foreign trade in electricity and climate fluctuations. Energy consumption also fell 4.5 percent compared with 2011 and renewables’ share of overall energy consumption rose 3.1 percent, while coal consumption declined 23.4 percent.

“The new figures show that our climate and energy policies work,” Lidegaard said. “That’s reassuring, but if we are to do something about the challenges posed by climate change, we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to keep up the good work.”

The figures arrived ahead of today’s presentation of a green paper by the European Climate Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, that marks the start of the commission’s work to set new climate targets for 2030 and beyond.

In a press release, Hedegaard said there was a need for new ambitious targets given the EU’s rising dependence on costly foreign fossil fuels.

''It's obviously not wise for the climate, but it's also not wise for our economy and our competitiveness,” Hedegaard wrote. “That is why we have decided that in Europe we want a low-carbon society for 2050. We have targets for 2020, but for most investors 2020 is around the corner. It's time to define the targets for 2030. The sooner we do that, the more certainty we get to our companies and our investors.”

A consultation period will now last until July 2, in which the commission will investigate how to set more ambitious emissions targets while also fostering growth and competition in Europe.

The EU’s current targets for 2020 are a 20 percent reduction in emissions compared to 1990, 20 percent of energy derived from renewable sources, and 20 percent savings in energy production compared to projections.

The EU also has an ambition to reduce carbon emission by between 80 and 95 percent by 2050, though there are no interim targets between 2020 and 2050.