Danish mayors and the chairman of regions will share unique climate knowledge at COP28

1. December 2023

Local climate action is on the agenda at COP28 and it is a field in which Denmark is a front runner. On the third day of the climate summit, a number of Danish mayors and the chairman of Danish Regions will share their work on local climate action plans.

Around the world, it has been noticed that almost all Danish municipalities have managed to develop and politically adopt local climate action plans in the course of just three years. And as acceleration of global climate action is a main theme at COP28, a Danish delegation has been invited to the summit to talk about their efforts with the purpose of inspiring the rest of the world.

The Danish municipalities’ climate action plans collectively aim to achieve a 76 percent reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases across all sectors by 2030. Simultaneously, they show how municipalities will work in a holistic and long-term manner to adapt to the consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels, extreme rainfall, and heat waves. To operate on such a large scale and integrate both reductions and adaptation into climate action plans in all municipalities is unique – even in a global context.

The Danish delegation consists of twelve mayors, the chairman of Danish Regions, and other partners in the project DK2020. DK2020 was initiated by the philanthropic association Realdania in 2019, and in 2020, Local Government Denmark (KL) and the five Danish regions entered the collaboration, which in the spring of 2023 was replaced by the Climate Alliance, focusing on implementation. In total, 97 Danish municipalities have either completed or are in the process of developing climate action plans that align with the goals set in the Paris Agreement. Many are also well into the implementation phase.

”The delegation aims to inspire mayors, governors, and local leaders worldwide to collaborate on climate action. Often, local climate initiatives are more ambitious than national goals because the municipalities are closer to the citizens and experience the direct consequences of climate changes. The invitation from COP28 clearly illustrates how far we’ve progressed and how crucial local climate action is to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement,” says Jesper Nygård, CEO of Realdania and board member of the global network C40 Cities. 

The DK2020 project and the municipalities’ climate planning are based on an international framework developed by the global network C40 cities for megacities worldwide and subsequently adapted to smaller municipalities in Denmark. 

Local climate action plays a key role

The climate summit in Dubai has made room for a summit within the summit titled COP28 Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS).

The event, organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the COP presidency, takes place on the 1st and 2nd of December. Discussions will revolve around developing a new paradigm for local climate action that integrates both CO2 reductions and climate adaption.  A paradigm which is action-oriented across all levels, from local to national.

“I am incredibly proud of how far we’ve come together. We have shown the entire world how even smaller towns and municipalities, each with very different challenges, including nature, infrastructure, and industry, can commit to the Paris Agreement. And now we're heading to COP28 to showcase the results of working together and to share our knowledge and experiences up until now," says Frank Schmidt-Hansen, Chairman of KL’s Climate Action Committee and the Climate Alliance, as well as Mayor of Vejen Municipality.

Besides Vejen, the delegation includes mayors from Lejre, Frederikshavn, Lolland, Hørsholm, Fredericia, Roskilde, Norddjurs, Haderslev, Billund, Allerød and the Lord Mayor from Copenhagen. Additionally, there are representatives from Realdania, Denmark's green think tank CONCITO, C40 Cities, Local Government Denmark (KL), and Danish Regions.

From plans to actions 

As the climate action plans have been politically adopted in all the country's municipalities, the next step is developing a solid framework for collaboration on turning plans into climate action. Therefore, the delegation is also heading to COP28 with the new initiative, the Climate Alliance. The alliance is established by the partnership behind DK2020 but with a focus on collaboration and knowledge sharing to assist the implementation of the local climate action plans.

“With the Climate Alliance we have created a strong collaboration between municipalities and regions, making local climate action accessible. We are now actively identifying the effective measures, and the next step is to share this knowledge across the alliance. The impact of collaboration among numerous local and regional actors to achieve climate goals is something we aim to share with the rest of the world at COP28," says Anders Kühnau, Chairman of Danish Regions.

At the event on the 2nd of December, Realdania, the group of mayors, and Danish Regions will present the specific local climate work as well as two new analyses delving into the resilience of the municipalities' climate action plans, focusing on greenhouse gas reduction and climate adaptation, respectively. 

The analyses, conducted by EA Energy Analyses and CONCITO, show that the municipalities have identified specific measures, which in interaction with national framework conditions, are expected to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 73 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. Additionally, the analyses describe how municipalities will enhance climate resilience through local climate adaptation.

The analyses also highlight a need to follow the plans through and the requirement for national legislation or implementation of new technologies in several areas. This is crucial in order for municipalities to achieve their even more ambitious goals of 76 percent reduction by 2030, climate neutrality by 2050, and to attain a climate-resilient society. 

Both analyses underline the need for ongoing monitoring of the plans' objectives, knowledge base, and initiatives, as well as an increased need for collaboration among the state, regions, and municipalities.
American Bloomberg Philanthropies is the main sponsor of COP28 Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS) and has invited the DK2020 project to participate. The delegation has access to the Blue Zone, the UN section of the summit, where negotiations, heads of states, and official delegations are located. They are also set to participate in an event within the official program titled: ’A Danish Climate Journey: Local action delivering to 76 % GHG reductions through multi-level partnerships’.

For the first time, a Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS) is being held as an integrated part of the climate summit. LCAS brings together local, regional, and national leaders to develop a paradigm for fully integrated climate action, based on the crucial role that local leaders play in concrete climate action.

Read more about the summit here
The report ‘Analysis of the emissions reduction contributions of Danish municipalities towards meeting the 70% target by 2030’ has been prepared by EA Energy Analyses. Read it here.

The report ‘Adaptation approaches in Danish municipalities’ climate action plans’ has< been prepared by CONCITO. Read a summary here. 

Both reports have been commissioned by DK2020 – a climate partnership between Realdania, Local Government Denmark (KL), and the five regions, with CONCITO as the project manager and knowledge partner, in collaboration with the global network C40 Cities.