The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for the implementation of robust climate policy across the globe. Dan Jørgensen, the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Public Utilities is making sure Denmark makes a change for a clean and sustainable future
With a target to be independent of fossil fuels by 2050, Denmark has committed to a clean and sustainable future. Their policies on climate change are partly driven by compliance with international climate obligations and partly by achieving national targets in the energy sector. These national targets are important to Danish policy as the energy sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions from Denmark.
As previously reported, Europe is leading the way in combatting climate change. Dan Jørgensen, the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Public Utilities, is ensuring Denmark is part of this push for change in Europe. CleanTech News had the pleasure of speaking to Mr Jørgensen about his policies, commitment to tackling climate change and the impact of COVID-19 on climate policy.
With COVID-19 highlighting issues with pollution and climate change, do you believe that there will be a marked change in our approach to the climate?
While this historic health crisis has led to a lot of hardship around the globe, it also provides an opportunity to bend the emissions curve that has been leading the world towards climate disaster. We have a chance for a green restart and we cannot afford to let it pass us by. There is no contradiction between job creation, economic recovery and climate action. On the contrary, we need to pursue those synergies. If the COVID crisis has taught us anything, it is that the earlier we act, the higher the likelihood of success.
As the Minister of Climate, Energy and Public Utilities, what do you think needs to be implemented to create significant change?
On the political level, the billions of dollars that are funnelled into the global economy need to support our common climate goals. The climate crisis has not disappeared even if our attention has been directed, rightfully so, at the pandemic in Denmark, one of our key objectives has been to tip the scales from black to green, by investing in green technologies.
The business case is clear. Wind and solar power are already the cheapest forms of energy in many places, now it is about the scale and speed of the transition. This has to be compatible with what climate science tells us is needed.
What is your personal drive in the pursuit of creating a cleaner future?
During my childhood, nature and bird-watching fascinated me. As I grew up, climate and environmental issues were the very reason why I became a politician in the first place. I strongly believe that we need to act responsibly to prevent climate collapse due to our very own behaviour. We cannot leave future generations to foot the “climate bill”. We need to act now; it is my sincere aspiration that Denmark takes on a global green leadership role to make that happen.
Do you think tech innovation plays a role in creating a clean future?
Yes, without tech innovation we will not succeed in the battle against climate change. We need to find green sustainable solutions for transportation, agriculture and many other sectors. That is also why the first chapter of our climate action plan includes ambitious policies for technologies like Power-to-X and CCS that will become key building blocks in our drive towards climate neutrality.
It is also true that at this stage we can’t say for certain how exactly we are going to achieve the enormously ambitious reduction target of 70% by 2030. We just know that we need to get there and that will also require a strong focus on innovation and research. That is also the case in the rest of the world, if we are to achieve global carbon neutrality by 2050, as we know we must.
With issues such as the oil spill off the coast of Mauritius and the floods in Bangladesh, is there any hope for the climate?
Of course, there is still hope. These devastating events that bring about so much human suffering and economic destruction remind us of the fact that the clock is ticking and the need to speed up climate action now. But if we succeed in doing it right, we can still avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis and that is something worth fighting for.
What are your hopes and visions for the future of the climate?
My hope is that this pandemic might remind us of the value of timely action and global co-operation. Hopefully, this will inspire us all to act on the climate crisis with much more urgency and decisiveness. This crisis doesn’t go away when a vaccine is found. This is a crisis that requires solutions and investments on a wholly different scale. We are talking about an unprecedented transformation of the world and I sincerely hope and believe that we have got what it takes.