Denmark’s new “Climate Act” law could make climate change illegal
by Mashum Mollah How to Guides 01 August 2020
Emissions are harmful to citizens and it’s the responsibility of the government to protect them from harm, doing everything within their means to prevent global warming. The world is already experiencing the dreaded consequences of global warming. We’re talking about frequent and prolonged drafts, severe weather phenomena, rising sea levels, the melting of polar ice sheets, and widespread fires. Climate denial only increases the risk of catastrophic change worldwide. The question now is: Should we use the law to tackle these issues? Denmark, which is one of the very few countries providing examples on how to fight against climate change, wants to make it illegal not to take action regarding climate change.
In June 2020, the majority parliament supported the introduction of a law on emissions of greenhouse gases for all industrial sectors. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2020, which is one of the world’s most ambitious targets. Denmark, the first country to introduce wind power, is largely regarded as a leader in terms of combating climate change. A new law has been passed that seeks to make failure on acting on climate change illegal – in other words, to “ban” climate change. The reality of climate change due to human activity has widely been accepted and many worry that continuing to deny the situation will only increase the effects of the warming planet.
The Climate Act proves that governments don’t have to choose between the environment and the economy:
Under the law, the Government is obligated to design a Climate Action Plan every year. To be more precise, the Government has to set legally binding emissions targets across all sectors of the economy, including industry, energy, transportation, agriculture, and forestry. The law ensures that all policies support green sustainable development and promote transformation within Danish society. If not enough progress is made, then the government will be held accountable. The government could even be forced to step down. The Climate Act could turn out to be a powerful tool for instilling great change and demonstrates that governments have made mistakes in the past.
The idea that governments can be held accountable represents a cause for alarm amongst politicians. This is because, until this point, they have gotten away with promising many things while continuing their activity as usual. What they need to comprehend is that climate change is real and it can no longer be ignored. Interestingly, climate laws are becoming more widespread, helping nations tackle climate change. The legal system can weigh and measure the actions pertaining to climate efforts, which means that someone can be taken to court for refusing to act on the climate crisis. Decision-makers can’t, therefore, afford to fail the community or the planet.
Businesses, and the public, are included in Denmark’s plans
Great efforts are being made to include businesses, as well as citizens in the climate plans, supplying them with data that enables them to make more intelligent and accurate decisions. There is a need for cooperation when it comes to identifying and developing sustainable projects. The private sector is being put to the test, but the good news is that companies are already making strides in their energy efficiency and recycling efforts. For instance, numerous firms have installed onsite waste balers and compactors for recycling. There are machines for businesses of different sizes, fortunately. Recycling helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumption. It could be argued that it helps the climate. Carlsberg recently inaugurated a new water recycling plant at the brewery in Fredericia, which reduces water consumption and promotes recycling hot water.
Denmark can set an example on how to set up an economy with zero-net greenhouse gas emissions. All parts of the economy and society will play a vital role in leading the way towards positive change. This can be realized by investing in cutting-edge technological solutions, empowering citizens and entrepreneurs, and making modifications in key areas such as policy, finance, and research. Climate change and energy consumption are a global challenge and responsibility. The Danish have demonstrated that it’s possible to go after economic growth while reducing consumption and protecting the environment.
How can governments be more environmentally-friendly?
Reducing emissions and maintaining a greener planet isn’t complicated and the habits and practices can be introduced into local government offices. They should factor in the environment into their everyday actions and purchases. Going green isn’t reserved for big brands or regular individuals. Local governments can and should take part in the movement. But how? Creating new guidelines is well worth the effort. In what follows, there is a small list of suggestions on what can be done to be environmentally-friendly at work:
1. Training employees to go green
Employees should be conscious of saving energy and recycling. Environmental awareness and conduct training should be carried out throughout the organization. Sessions can be run internally via intranet or video conferencing. People should turn off their computers when heading home and keep the lights on only if they need them. They develop habits that don’t harm the planet and learn about eco-friendly practices. Employees need to have valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t. government agencies should offer environmental education to new and long-standing employees according to their specifics.
2. Making changes in local government facilities
Little changes can make a significant difference in terms of climate change. LED light bulbs, for example, preserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their usage. Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs is one example of what can be done to save the planet. Other measures include rearranging office furniture, adding window coverings to allow more natural light in, and replacing paper and plastic dishes with reusable ones. Introducing recycling bins is also recommended, as employees can sort their own waste.
3. Getting commuters out of cars
Local government employees live in town, meaning that they don’t deal with long commutes. Instead of encouraging staff members to come to work by car, it would be better to foster discussions concerning alternative means of transportation, such as bicycles or simply walking. Motor vehicles are an important source of carbon dioxide emissions, which affect everyone’s health. Shifting the daily commute from cars to something more sustainable, such as cycling or public transit, can boost wellness and happiness.
These are just some of the ways that local governments can perpetuate sustainability and meet their duty of care.