Something is right in the state of Denmark – at least when it comes to climate policy. In this interview with Columbia University’s Bill Loveless, Dan Jorgenson, Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, describes the country’s wildly ambitious plan to reduce CO2 emissions by 70% by 2030. Some of their plans may seem fanciful. One idea, in particular, proposes an artificial island built in the North Sea to act as a hub for rapidly growing offshore wind farms. But Jorgenson insists that this is far from science fiction, and that it will allow wind energy to play a greater role in applications such as green hydrogen production. Moreover, he expects the project to be backed mainly by private capital, which will demand an adequate return. Referring wryly to “the guys on Wall Street,” he remarks, “I don’t think many of them are tree-hugging hippies.”
Two powerful groups have supported Denmark’s climate policies. First, Danish industry has indicated its support. Tine Roed, the head of Dansk Industri, the industry confederation, has gone so far as to say that it’s “obvious” to give climate change top priority, and that the consequences of failure are “unimaginable.” Second, Denmark’s powerful pension funds have poured their support behind a low-carbon transition. This public-private synchrony is much needed elsewhere, as differing interests present obstacles to change. Meanwhile, Denmark appears to be moving full steam ahead with a decisiveness that Hamlet would be envious of.