Municipalities colour Denmark green: Towards climate neutrality before 2050

12. October 2021

Climate change must be managed locally. Danish municipalities have now solidly confirmed this. A further 30 have joined the climate project DK2020 - climate action plans for all of Denmark. This means that close to all Danish municipalities have joined the race to become climate neutral before 2050. The parties behind the project - Realdania, Local Government Denmark and the five Danish regions - describe the level of the municipal and regional climate ambitions as historically high.

Denmark is the first country in the world in which almost all municipalities have set formidable green ambitions to meet the challenging targets in the Paris Agreement.  
A further 30 municipalities have just joined the DK2020 climate project and the existing group of 64 municipalities. The goal is clear: To be climate neutral by no later than 2050. The road forward is an extremely ambitious local climate action plan that the municipalities are now to draw up with funding from Realdania, Local Government Denmark and the five Danish regions.   
This means that, in 30 years, almost the entire Danish population will be living in a climate-neutral municipality that is resilient to climate changes that are already causing higher temperatures, increasing seawater levels and more rainfall.
“Climate collaboration between the municipalities has never been stronger. I’m enormously proud that municipal Denmark can so clearly demonstrate that we are willing to take the lead. Climate change must be managed locally, because it is a matter of welfare; it’s about preventing basement flooding, reducing noise and pollution from transport, reducing waste through more recycling, and about diverting large amounts of water using the local playground. It’s about sustainable solutions in buildings as well as in the choice of food in care homes for the elderly. Climate changes and the green transition affect our lives and the places where we live and work. For these reasons, we have a binding task to ensure a successful transition in which the public is close to where the decisions made. It’s very apparent that the municipalities have clearly understood this task and are taking it extremely seriously,” said Jacob Bundsgaard, chairman of Local Government Denmark.

DK2020 sets climate at the top of the agenda 

Among the 30 new municipalities in DK2020 are Bornholm, Brønderslev, Greve, Tønder and Holstebro, and they will all be working with the same standards for climate planning and with the same tools as those used by international megacities such as Los Angeles and London - developed by the international cities network C40. That so many local authorities in the same country are applying C40's tools to achieve the goals in the Paris Agreement is unprecedented. 

As participants in DK2020, the 30 new municipalities have committed to drawing up a roadmap for climate neutrality in 2050. Work will already get underway this autumn, with the municipalities identifying all significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions locally and setting a clear plan for how they are to be managed. Areas under investigation include transport, agriculture, energy, buildings, urban development and municipal vehicles and properties.  
Before a climate action plan can finally be approved by the C40 international cities network, it will have to contain specific suggestions for how the municipality will adapt to climate change.  
"DK2020 sets climate at the top of the agenda, and it’s great to see how a close partnership between the regions and municipalities can contribute to finding solutions to climate challenges. With so many on board the project, the municipalities, the regions and Realdania can now concentrate all our forces on forging serious and ambitious climate action plans and we can take the necessary steps to make Denmark climate neutral and resilient by 2050,” said Stephanie Lose, Chairman of Danish Regions. 

Cities the world over are looking towards Danish municipalities 

In 2019, when Realdania started DK2020 as a pilot project, 20 municipalities were invited to join. All 20 now have a C40-approved climate action plan. Among other things, focus is on phasing out oil and gas power, green mobility, climate-change adaptation, partnerships, green jobs, car-share schemes and collaboration with local businesses and citizens on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
“When we invited 20 pilot municipalities to join the newly established DK2020 project, we never imagined that we would be where we are now, after just two years, with a climate project including no fewer than 94 municipalities. I’m very proud on behalf of the municipalities and their residents that they have decided to take such a large and local responsibility for one of the most difficult global issues. Cities the world over are looking towards Danish municipalities for inspiration in their climate work. Now they have as many as 94 municipalities to talk to, as well as the City of Copenhagen, which, as a member of C40, already has an approved climate plan,” said Jesper Nygård, CEO of Realdania.   

Municipalities receive specialist advice and consultancy 

During their work on their climate action plans, the 30 municipalities in DK2020 will draw on specialist advice and consultancy from five geographical organisations: one in each region. These have been set up as part of DK2020 - climate action plans for all of Denmark. Specialist staff from the Municipal Contact Council under Local Government Denmark, from the five Danish regions, and from relevant local operators will provide advice and consultancy and facilitate the municipalities’ work to develop climate plans.  
  Together with C40, the Danish green think tank, CONCITO, is the overall project secretariat and knowledge partner for DK2020.    
Read more about DK2020 and the municipalities involved

The 30 new municipalities in DK2020

Bornholm, Egedal, Frederikssund, Gribskov, Hillerød, Hørsholm, Ishøj, Vallensbæk, Greve, Guldborgsund, Kalundborg, Næstved, Ringsted, Solrød, Stevns, Billund, Fanø, Tønder, Holstebro, Ikast-Brande, Norddjurs, Silkeborg, Skanderborg, Syddjurs, Brønderslev, Læsø, Mariagerfjord, Morsø, Rebild and Thisted.

DK2020 - timeline

2015: In the 2015 Paris Agreement, 195 countries set a common goal to reduce the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees and strive to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. 

2016: C40 publish the Deadline 2020 report, which establishes a roadmap for cities’ work to reduce their fair share of greenhouse gas emissions.
2017: On the basis of Deadline 2020, C40 develops the Climate Action Planning Framework to ensure that city climate action plans consider all sources of emissions, ensure public involvement, require implementation across municipal public administration areas and focus on relevant threats in relation to climate-change adaptation. 

2019: Realdania takes initiative for DK2020 in 2019. The aim is to expedite efforts to meet the Paris Agreement at municipality level, and support dialogue and cooperation on the climate between Danish municipalities. A total of 20 Danish municipalities are selected to follow in the footsteps of the most climate-ambitious cities in the world, and to join DK2020. At this time, only one Danish municipality has a climate plan that meets the objectives of the Paris Agreement: the City of Copenhagen, with a climate plan approved by the international cities network, C40. 

2020: Realdania enters into a partnership with Local Government Denmark and the five regions with a total budget of DKK 45 mill. This makes it possible to invite all Danish municipalities to join DK2020 - climate action plans for all of Denmark.  
 A further 44 municipalities are selected to participate in DK2020 from November 2020. Municipalities receive advice and counselling from five newly established geographical organisational with specialist employees from Local Government Denmark/Municipal Contact Council (KL/KKR), the region and local operators. 

2021: After a second and final round of applications, a further 30 municipalities join DK2020 - climate action plans for all of Denmark to start in October 2021. 
Climate action plans from the 20 pilot municipalities are approved by the international cities network C40 and are ready to be implemented. Experience from the first 20 municipalities goes back to the international cities network C40 from which DK2020 derives.  
At the initiative of Frederiksberg Municipality, the municipalities in DK2020 set up a C40-approved climate plan: Klimaalliancen (the climate alliance). The plan commits the participating municipalities to each implement climate action plans. 

2023: The remaining climate plans are completed.
2050: All DK2020 municipalities are climate resilient and climate neutral by 2050. 



Jacob Bundsgaard 
Chairman of Local Government Denmark 
Via the press office at Local Government Denmark:  
+45 3370 3333 
Stephanie Lose 
Chairman of Danish Regions and Chairman of the Regional Council, Region of Southern Denmark 
Via the press office at Danish Regions
+45 5151 1818
Jesper Nygård 
CEO of Realdania 
Via press consultant Pernille Isaksen 
+45 2677 4086 
Lars Gaardhøj 
Chairman of the Regional Council, Capital Region of Denmark 
Via the on-duty press officer of the Capital Region of Denmark 
+45 7020 9588 
Heino Knudsen 
Chairman of the Regional Council, Region Zealand 
+45 5114 5496 
Anders Kühnau 
Chairman of the Regional Council, Central Denmark Region 
+45 2360 2768 
Ulla Astman 
Chairman of the Regional Council, North Denmark Region 
+45 3023 6454 


DK2020 enables the Danish municipalities to obtain advice and consultancy to develop local climate action plans that meet the goals in the Paris Agreement.

See the project