Danish law also has a guarantee to ensure that positive climate efforts in one part of its government are not compromised by those of another.
Governments are notoriously bad at “checking” their decisions. Often, some departments support investment in fossil fuels or road construction, while others promote clean energy and transportation. The British government, for example, has introduced climate change legislation since 2008, but has been criticized for failing to take into account the environmental impacts of its spending decisions and for funding fossil fuels abroad.
As climate change rises on the political agenda, an all-in-one approach is increasingly prioritized. The New Zealand government, for example, said last year that all of its major decisions will now be made with a view to climate change.
Danish law also aims to ensure that all policies support green sustainable development. It establishes a standing committee on “green transformation” to monitor the sustainability of all policies, says Jørgensen. “We see this as a transformation of Danish society which is so great that it is not only my ministry, it is all ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he adds. “They are also responsible for the overall strategy which must be put forward every year.”
Denmark also strives to include business and the public in its plans. A “public climate council” of 99 people will be invited to discuss potential climate plans. Thirteen “climate partnerships”, each led by a different sector, were responsible for finding solutions to reduce emissions from their industry. “So in fact, [the government] have put the private sector to the test, but also say on the other hand that the private sector really wants to be put to the test, ”says Qvist-Sørensen.
Partnerships ask each sector how they can contribute, “while reminding them that a social democratic government is not afraid to use the tax toolbox,” tweeted Magnus Hornø Gottlieb, an adviser to the Danish multinational. Ørsted. The sectors, from agriculture to aviation, have recently communicated their recommendations to the government. “Some of them are quite interesting, I have to say,” says Qvist-Sørensen.
When the laws fail
Climate laws are becoming an increasingly common tool for countries to fight climate change. But what if governments fail to create them in the first place? In this case, the courts prove to be a powerful mechanism for forcing governments to act.
In a particularly remarkable judgment of 2015, a court in The Hague ordered the Dutch government to reduce its emissions by at least 25% in five years. The case, brought by Urgenda, was based on the government’s legal obligation to exercise due diligence towards Dutch citizens.