by Seth Berger
Denmark has recently passed a climate law that addresses many of the shortcomings of previous climate change legislation. This law is written in a way that makes the Danish government responsible for its environmental decisions on an annual basis, meaning that it will be essentially illegal to avoid legitimate climate change efforts. Although this is only true in theory, the climate law in Denmark is more powerful than its predecessors due to several unique qualities it possesses.
The first reason that this law holds much potential is its resilience to change; the fact that it has a long-lasting solution. One common issue with climate change initiatives is that while governments do set up goals they have to improve their carbon footprint, oftentimes they are not legally held accountable for that to actually come into realization. In this regard, the Danish law has a very viable solution. The Danish government will require a majority of parliamentary approval every year, making it theoretically possible to remove the government should they not follow through. This does create the possibility that a worse government could take its place. However, cross-party support for improvements in climate change mitigate this risk.
In addition, Denmark is making a strong push to look at their environmental impact when making decisions. Often, many countries, including Denmark, make decisions that contradict their environmental efforts. By looking at it from a “green lens,” it is the hope of many climate change advocates that these contradictions are reduced. Denmark is also guilty of making contradictory decisions with regards to the importations that they have. In order to combat this issue, Denmark is incorporating climate change into their trade policies and foreign aid. They are also planning on sharing their green technologies in the hopes that it will have an effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in other countries.
Ultimately, Denmark’s push in climate change initiatives could serve as a catalyst for neighboring countries to incorporate similar laws. Although there is certainly more that can be done, it is the hope of many that Denmark’s efforts could be the beginning of much more to come.