Environmental activists cheered Denmark this week as the country dropped a major announcement: It will reduce its carbon footprint 70 percent by 2030. The small Scandinavian country formalized the Danish Climate Act on June 17, with eight of its 10 political parties voting in favor. The country will invest in two large offshore wind farms along with carbon capture technology to pull carbon from the air. The biggest win here is that, unlike the steps outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the Danish Climate Act is legally binding. The country had previously announced the commitment but formally made it a legally binding deal this week.
“Today is a historic day, marking the end of a long journey from the conception of an idea to a fully fledged Climate Act, designed to guide Denmark all the way to climate neutrality,” said Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities Dan Jørgensen. “The law sets our 70% reduction target in stone and reconfirms our full and unwavering commitment to deliver our part in the common fight against climate change.”
Of course, it’s far easier for a country of 5.8 million people to slash its emissions by such a large margin in a short period of time than for a large country like the United States to do the same. Inspiration and competition run rampant in politics, however, and the forward-thinking Scandinavian bloc is likely to take further action following Denmark’s pledge. In 2016, Norway pledged climate neutrality by 2030. Though this commitment is not enshrined in law, activists certainly have a large pedestal to stand on and shout should the commitment falter.
The model could also inspire US states to enact a similar framework, whether legally binding or not. America’s Pledge was enacted by US cities, states, businesses, and universities after President Donald Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The US Climate Alliance is a coalition of state governors, representing 23 states and more than 60 percent of the US population, who have pledged to uphold their states’ commitments to the Paris Agreement. If the Trump administration is removed from office in January 2021 and replaced with a president who prioritizes climate action and makes decisions based on scientific data, the goals of these committees could make their way back to Washington with the Danish Climate Act as a new example for future drafting of bills.
The takeaway for US citizens is to vote in the presidential election this November and to urge everyone around them to do the same. Register here.
More climate wins:
Electric vehicles had a big week. The ride-hailing app Lyft is going all-electric. The company announced this week it would phase out gas-powered cars from its fleet by 2030, a move that will cover its drivers’ vehicles, its rental fleet, and autonomous cars.
And, it’s now easier than ever to drive across the US in an electric vehicle. Electrify America completed the first of its two proposed cross-country networks of EV charging stations, covering I-70 and I-15 from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles.
Beyond the country’s road system, the US Senate passed a major conservation bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund on a permanent basis and address a backlog of maintenance issues on public lands, including national parks. The bill was drafted by Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, and passed the Senate with 73 votes in favor and 25 against.
The House of Representatives is likely to pass their take on the bill. Its massive success in the Senate is a testament to the growing economic benefit of conserving public lands for recreation and restoration rather than oil and gas leasing and development, an issue that Matador Network has covered extensively — you have plenty of green-powered fuel for the next time someone tells you public lands are better off in private hands.