Oct 022010
 
Save Planet Earth
Image by ozgurmulazimoglu via Flickr

A new road map from the Danish government suggests how

Denmark could become one of the first countries in the world to completely stop using oil, gas and coal by 2050 if it boosts wind production by as much as six times and hikes taxes onfossil fuels tenfold, a government-appointed commission said.

Denmark should increase its wind powercapacity to between 10,000 and 18,500 megawatts in 2050 — most of it by installing offshore turbines — from the current capacity of slightly more than 3,000 megawatts, the Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy said in its report. At the same time, the country should impose a tax on fossil fuels that would rise from 5 Danish crowns per gigajoule next year to 50 crowns by 2030.

“My government will study the recommendations very closely and will present a road map setting a date for freeing ourselves from fossil fuels,” Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said at a conference this week in Copenhagen. “It will be one of the first road maps in the world on how to become fully independent of fossil fuels. A plan for a transition like this will touch every part of society and every corner of politics. We are facing tough choices.”

The commission, established in 2008 by the government, was composed of 10 independent experts from universities and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It was tasked with researching how Denmark could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 and its consumption of fossil fuels from 80 percent of current energy demand to zero.

The commission said renouncing fossil fuels requires “a total conversion of the Danish energy system.” That means the change must be gradual, but needs to begin now so that new infrastructure investments can be made as old infrastructure wears out, thus minimizing costs. The commission said 2050 was a realistic target year because most of the necessary technology is already known today and the current powerplants will in any case become too old and need to be replaced by then.

The commission said going fossil fuel-free would reduce Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent compared with 1990 levels. To achieve a reduction of 80 percent or more would require additional efforts, mainly cutting emissions in agriculture.

Concerns about jobs and debt

“It is possible to achieve, but we must balance a number of priorities such as employment and the debt,” the prime minister said at the World Climate Solutions conference. “This can’t be achieved today or tomorrow, but I know that we need to get started. We already have one of the most energy-efficient economies in the world. Growth and prosperity are possible without increasing energy consumption. We want to expand the use of green energy on a massive scale, making it the cornerstone of a green economy.”

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