My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Denmark isn't that green....

But no one in Copenhagen will tell you that...
But despite Denmark's reputation as an environmentally conscious country, very few Danes are like Lyhne. In fact, Danes are bigger polluters than the Dutch. In 2006, the average Dane was good for a yearly carbon dioxide equivalent emission of 13 tons, while the average Dutch-person only emitted 12.7 tons, according to figures from the European Environmental Agency in Copenhagen.
So why does Denmark have such a 'green' reputation? Morten Møller of the Danish Energy Agency in Copenhagen has often asked himself the same question. He thinks it may have something to do with all the windmills dotting the Danish landscape.

It is true that the windmills have considerably reduced Denmark's greenhouse gas emissions, but increased road traffic has already undone the difference. The number of pigs held in Denmark has also increased, and pig excrement contains methane, which is 20 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
It is not what Denmark wants the participants to the 15th UN climate conference (COP15) to hear when they arrive in Copenhagen on Monday. The official pamphlets for the conference only mention Denmark's success stories. It gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy - more than any other country. Its economy has seen constant growth over the past 40 years, and yet its greenhouse gas emissions have remained roughly the same.

"We certainly have our strong points," says Peter Rørmose Jensen of the Danish statistics agency, "but statistics can prove anything you like."

Together with three colleagues Jensen took a closer look at Denmark's greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2007. They found that, if you play by the Kyoto rules, Denmark's yearly emissions have indeed remained stable at 70 million tons carbon dioxide equivalent.

But under the Kyoto rules emissions from shipping and air traffic are not counted. And Denmark has a huge shipping industry: it is the largest container transporter in the world. If you count shipping, add an extra 47 million tons to Denmark's yearly emissions.

On the other hand, Denmark has almost no heavy industry: one big cement plant and one oil refinery, that's it. By comparison, the Rotterdam port area alone is full of chemical plants, oil refineries and coal-fired power plants. So it is true that Denmark emits few greenhouse gases in absolute terms, says Jensen. The Netherlands emits three times more. But the Dutch population is also more than three times bigger than Denmark's. Measured per capita, and including the shipping industry, the Danish picture starts to look a lot less rosy.

Denmark has more marks against it. If it is true that Denmark's emissions have remained stable for decades, the country is a long way removed from meeting its commitments under the Kyoto agreement. Denmark is supposed to reduce emissions from 70 to 55 million tons in the 2008-2012 period, a 20 percent reduction compared to the reference year 1990.

It is already clear that it will never meet this target: in 2008 it emitted 64 million tons. That's why Denmark, like the Netherlands, has invested heavily in green technology projects in developing countries and in Eastern Europe. These so-called carbon credits count towards a country's own targets under the Kyoto treaty. Denmark has invested 160 million euros so far, but that only gets it 3.2 million tons worth of credits, leaving it still far removed from its Kyoto target.


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