Danish Municipalities make Climate History

1. July 2020

On the island of Samsø and in Sønderborg, two climate plans of international standard have just been approved by the C40 global network of cities. The two municipalities are part of Realdania's DK2020 climate project, in which, together with 18 other Danish municipalities, they are working to set new standards for the municipalities' climate battle.

Internationally renowned cities such as Los Angeles and London are not the only cities to provide climate plans at a level that matches the Paris Agreement. 

Also Samsø Municipality and Sønderborg Municipality have now each finalised their ambitious climate plans. The climate plans have been prepared in accordance with the same standards for climate planning as those used by some of the world's largest and most ambitious cities in the C40 network. 

Another 18 Danish municipalities will finalise their climate plans in 2020.

All of these municipalities are part of Realdania's DK2020 project. With help and advice from the CONCITO green think tank and experts from C40, since spring 2019 DK2020 has equipped Danish municipalities to develop climate plans that show the way to net zero emissions for the municipalities as a geographical area by 2050. In addition, the climate plan must contain specific suggestions for how the municipality will adapt to climate change.

Climate plan focuses on emissions from ferries to Samsø
For more than 20 years, Samsø Municipality has been working on a green transition of the local community and has ambitiously shown how to switch an island with just under 3,700 inhabitants to renewable energy. Now Samsø is opening a new chapter with C40's approval of the municipality's new climate plan. 

Among other things, the plan focuses on greenhouse gas emissions from ferries sailing to and from the island. As much as 60% of total emissions from the transport sector in the municipality come from ferries. Therefore, Samsø will work to ensure that, in future, ferries sail on locally produced liquefied biogas instead of natural gas as they do today.  

"On Samsø, we're pleased to be part of Realdania's DK2020 project, because this means that we now have a new climate plan that analyses local issues and not least solutions that can free the island from fossil fuels. Through many years of climate work, Samsø has already shown that local players together can move a municipality's CO2 balance significantly. We're ready to take action and we can't wait for the government's new climate action plan to allow municipalities and local stakeholders to continue this work. Local ownership is vital for us to succeed together in reaching Denmark's ambitious goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 70% by 2030, and this is where municipalities play an important role," said Marcel Meijer, Mayor of Samsø Municipality.

Sønderborg focuses on climate-neutral energy

Sønderborg Municipality's work in ProjectZero is groundbreaking – a partnership between the municipality and the high-tech, local business community on reducing CO2 emissions from energy consumption to zero already by 2029.

With the DK2020 climate plan, the municipality is taking it several steps further with initiatives within energy supply, housing, passenger and freight transport, education institutions, businesses, agriculture, for example. Among the largest initiatives is the utilities company Sønderborg Forsyning's plan to erect coastal wind turbines. One of the visions in Sønderborg is that, together with several biogas plants and solar farms, wind power becomes part of climate-neutral energy production. 

"Sønderborg's ProjectZero has been focusing on the climate since 2007, and has taught us that the climate ambitions of the municipal council are best solved in public-private collaboration with citizens and the business community. With the DK2020 climate plan, we have tested the initiatives in relation to the Paris Agreement, and at the same time we have integrated both sustainability and climate change adaptation.  The DK2020 project builds on experience from C40 and thereby ensures a robust climate platform across borders and continents. Our ambition is to remain at the forefront, and I'm proud that Sønderborg now lives up to the Paris Agreement and can inspire climate efforts of other cities," said Erik Lauritzen, Mayor of Sønderborg Municipality.  

Experience from Danish municipalities will be shared in C40

Denmark is the first country in the world, in which a group of municipalities collaborate on developing climate plans in accordance with the Climate Action Planning Framework (CAPF) of C40 – a tool to develop climate plans compatible with the Paris Agreement. 

The DK2020 municipalities will thus help make history in the global climate battle. This also means that much of the knowledge generated by the Danish municipalities through DK2020 will be included and used in the international work of C40.

"Climate has an important place on the political agenda of local governments, and for many years municipalities have consciously worked to promote the green transition and to reduce their carbon footprint. With DK2020, selected municipalities from around Denmark have been given the opportunity to speed up their local climate battle – and to serve as inspiration to other countries as well. Therefore, I look forward to passing on the valuable knowledge generated in DK2020 by Danish municipalities to the global work in C40", said Jesper Nygård, CEO of Realdania. 

More about DK2020

Through Realdania's DK2020 project, 20 Danish municipalities have been given a unique opportunity to take part in a programme that equips them to develop, upgrade or adjust their existing climate work in line with global best practice in the area, and ultimately develop climate plans that meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. 

The municipal climate plans will include instructions on how the municipalities can become climate robust and climate neutral by no later than 2050, and set ambitious sub-goals for climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas reductions. Throughout the process, municipalities have received technical support and advice from the CONCITO green think tank and C40, so that the plans live up to the C40 standard for climate planning.

The 20 municipalities will finalise their climate plans by 2021. The first two climate plans from Samsø Municipality and Sønderborg Municipality are now ready.

The 20 municipalities in DK2020 are Albertslund, Allerød, Assens, Fredericia, Frederiksberg, Frederikshavn, Helsingør, Høje-Taastrup, Jammerbugt, Køge, Lejre, Lemvig, Lolland, Middelfart, Randers, Roskilde, Samsø, Sønderborg, Vejle and Aarhus.

Read more about DK2020 and see the finalised climate plans here