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SOER Country

Climate change mitigation (Denmark)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The main cause of anthropogenic contribution to climate change is the emission of CO2 from the use of fossil fuels. In Denmark, the average annual temperature increase during the past 100 years is 1.5 °C. This has already resulted in increased precipitation by approximately 15 %, characterised by heavier rainfalls and drier summer periods. Rising water temperatures of 1–3 °C, earlier algae blooming in the aquatic environment and extension of the pollen season are further observed changes. However, climate change effects are less serious in Denmark, compared to many other countries, for example Greenland.

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

The energy sector is the most important source of emissions of greenhouse gases. Since the 1970s, the yearly Danish energy consumption has been relatively stable, but in recent years energy consumption has increased slightly. From 2000 to 2008, the gross energy consumption has increased by 3.1 %, corrected for climate variation and energy import and export. The highest increase in energy consumption is within the transport sector, primarily road traffic. The transport related increase was 11.1 % from 2000 to 2008. For other sectors, the energy consumption has been relatively stable since 2000. At the same time, the share of renewable energy has increased from 2000 to 2008 from 11.4 % to 18.5 % of the gross energy consumption.

Figure 1 (5.1.1)

Figure 1 (5.1.1): The total Danish energy consumption in Peta Joule (PJ = 1015 Joule) shown for different fuel types. The data are corrected for climatic variations and are exclusive foreign shipping transport. Source: Danish Energy Agency.

Figure 2 (5.2.1)

Figure 2 (5.2.1):: Production of renewable energy (measured in Peta Joule = 1015 Joule) in Denmark shown for different energy sources. Source: Danish Energy Agency

Figure 3 (5.1.2)

Figure 3 (5.1.2): The total Danish energy consumption (measured in Peta Joule (PJ) = 1015 Joule) distributed on economic sectors. The data are corrected for climatic variations and are included foreign aviation, but not foreign sea transport. Source: Danish Energy Agency.

Figure 4 (5.1.3)

Figure 4 (5.1.3): Energy consumption in the transport sector, distributed on subsectors (measured in Peta Joule (PJ) = 1015 Joule). Source: Danish Energy Agency


Total Danish greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 7.4 % from 1990 to 2008, excluding LULUCF. If the amount is corrected for the natural yearly variation due to climatic factors and changes in import/export of electricity, it is estimated that emissions decreased by 14.4 % from 1990 to 2008. The highest emissions are from the energy sector, mainly from energy used for heating and electricity production, and account for 56 %. The transport sector accounts for 22 % and the agriculture sector for 16 %. CO2 accounts for 80 % of total greenhouse gas emissions.

 Figure 5 (5.3.1.modified)

Figure 5 (5.3.1 modified): Emission of greenhouse gasses, measured in CO2-equivalents, distributed on the main economic sectors. LULUCF is emission or uptake from vegetation. Source: National Environmental Research Institute.

Figure 6 (5.3.2)




Figure 6 (5.3.2): The Danish emission of greenhouse gasses in 2008 distributed on economic sectors. Source: National Environmental Research Institute




The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

The ’National Energy Agreement 2008-2011‘ sets two targets for gross energy consumption. A short term reduction target of 2 % by 2011 and a long term reduction target of 4 % by 2020, both relative to 2006.

The ’National Energy Agreement 2008-2011‘ also sets targets for the renewable share of gross energy consumption. A short‑term target of the share of renewable energy is set to 20 % by 2011 and a long‑term target set to 30 % renewable energy by 2025. Furthermore, the EU Directive on renewable energy sets a 2020 target for country‑specific renewable shares of the final energy consumption, with the Danish share being 30 %. This corresponds to approximately 28 % of the gross energy consumption.

The Danish emission reduction target under the Kyoto protocol is 21 % relative to the 1990 level. This is to be achieved during 2008-2012 (‘2010’). Under the Effort Sharing Decision, a part of the EU Climate and Energy Package, Denmark is to achieve a 20 % reduction in emissions from sectors not covered by the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) by 2020. This includes agriculture, transport, decentralised heating and small scale industries. The target is set relative to the 2005 emission level from these sectors.The most recent projections (2010) of the Danish gross energy consumption show that the 2011 target for gross energy consumption will be met, while further measures must be initiated in order to reach the 2020 target, corresponding to a reduction of 2 % of greenhouse gases.

Projections show that the share of renewable energy will increase to 21.1 % in 2011, indicating that the 2011 target will be reached. 2010 projections from the Danish energy agency show that the Danish renewable share of final energy consumption will increase to 28.3 % in 2020.

Projections of greenhouse gas emissions show a decreasing trend from 2007 to 2020, amounting to a reduction of 17 %. From 1990 to ‘2010’ (2008-2012) the national emissions are projected to decrease by 4 %. To meet the remaining part of the ‘2010’ target of a 21 % reduction, Denmark will use new domestic measures, the EU emissions trading scheme as well as flexible mechanisms as defined in the Kyoto protocol. With regard to the Effort Sharing target for 2020, projections indicate a reduction of emissions not covered by the emission trading system in 2020 of 8.5 % compared to 2005 emissions. As under the Kyoto protocol, the use of a variety of flexible mechanisms can be used to reach the target.

In general, the emission projections show that the contribution from the energy sector is decreasing, while the contribution from the transport sector, especially road traffic, is increasing. However, the most important sectors in ‘2010’ are expected to be the energy sector (39 %), followed by the transport sector (25 %), the agriculture sector (15 %) and other sectors (7 %).

Denmark has succeeded in decoupling the gross national product per inhabitants relative to the gross energy consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases.

The “National Energy Agreement 2008-2011” sets two targets for gross energy consumption. A short term reduction target of 2 % by 2011 and a long term reduction target of 4 % by 2020, both relative to 2006.

 Figure 7 (9.5.1)

Figure 7 (9.5.1): Decoupling of gross energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gasses (CO2 –equivalence) per inhabitants relative to the gross national product per inhabitant. Source: Statistics Denmark and National Environmental Research Institute


Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The Danish strategy for adaptation to a changing climate was adopted in 2008. Due to the uncertainties in the impact of climate change, the strategy is based on a flexibility approach with respect to defining initiatives and measures. The first initiative was to establish an information centre for climate change adaptation which is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the webportal, to identify a research strategy that focuses on research in climate change adaptation and set up an organisational structure of cross-sector coordination of initiatives. Included in the strategy is an analysis and identification of sector initiatives to be implemented within a ten-year period and initiatives to identify and develop methodologies for cost-benefit analysis of the initiatives.

The ’National Energy Agreement 2008-2011’ describes a range of initiatives used to meet the reduction target set for gross energy consumption and to increase the share of renewable energy. For example, by establishing additional 400 MW offshore wind turbines by 2010 which will correspond to an increase in the capacity of wind power by 12 %, measures to reduce emissions from transport, agriculture and household heating have been initiated though sector initiatives. Specific programmes have also been initiated, such as the Oil Fuelled Boiler Scrapping Scheme that creates and economically supports private incentives to switch from oil‑fuelled boilers to more energy‑efficient forms of heating.

Several initiatives incorporated in the Government action plan “Green Growth” from 2009 are expected to further reduce the agricultural sector’s emission of greenhouse gasses overall by about 800,000 tones of CO2 annually. Of this, about 400,000 tones are expected to be derived from the green, market-based re-structuring of nitrogen regulation.




The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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