Opinion - 28/June/2019

New Danish government should put energy efficiency first

By focusing its attention on energy efficiency, the newly elected Danish politicians can show they are listening to the public’s call for climate action and put Denmark back on the map as a frontrunner in the energy transition, argues Mads Nipper, Group President and CEO of Grundfos, a Danish water and heat pump manufacturer

Reducing energy consumption by 33% by 2030 and 45% by 2050, rather than simply expanding renewable energy sources, will allow Denmark to reach its goal of becoming energy neutral in the cheapest possible way

 

The general election in Denmark is now concluded and we as a society are realigning our political priorities and ambitions based on input from the ballot box. We are looking how we can create a future where much focus will be on the environment and climate. Seen from my chair, the key point from the general election that remains vividly clear is that the Danes voted for the climate.

Denmark already has some sound environmental ambitions, one of the most important being the ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050. This was agreed prior to the elections and enjoyed massive cross-party support in parliament. It also has support from many private businesses, including my own company, Grundfos.

There is, however, room for more ambitious climate action. Not least because we already have a lot of the solutions needed to drive a successful, and efficient, green transition — we just need to use them to their full extent.

Denmark is a leader in renewable energy solutions, we are working hard to push the electrification of society, and we have the knowledge and hardware to support energy efficiency to enable society to consume as little energy as possible and in the smartest way possible.

 

 

Cost efficient energy savings

Energy efficiency often sits as the third, sometimes neglected, element when talking about the green transition. And that is genuinely a shame. Not only is there huge potential to improve energy efficiency in, for example, buildings to achieve our ambitions of emitting less carbon dioxide, but also focusing on — and using — energy efficiency as a tool in the green transition is effective and economically sound.

A recent analysis from Ea Energy Analysis concludes that if we reduce our energy consumption by 33% by 2030 and 45% by 2050, as opposed to only expanding our renewable energy sources, we will reach our goal of becoming energy neutral in 2050 in the cheapest possible way. In fact, the analysis concludes that if we do not, it will cost society up to DKK 160 billion (€21.4 billion) to reach that ambition.

And why are the economy and cost-effective solutions important for the energy transition? Because making the right choices in this regard now will improve our chance of reaching our very necessary climate targets, create a positive spill-over effect on employment, while at the same time leaving more money for welfare. In Denmark, we have several companies specialised in producing, developing and exporting energy efficient solutions. Combined they employ 45,000 people across the country.

 

Losing traction

We have enormous potential to showcase climate-friendly solutions to the world, which can reduce energy consumption. Unfortunately, we have lost some of our traction in recent years and we cannot any longer rightfully claim to be among the frontrunners. Ambitions and initiatives are lacking and this might mean that we will be surpassed by other countries.

This is bad news for the Danish economy, for Danish exports and for Danish employment. Going green is good business, and this is something countries all over the world have realised.

We need, therefore, to set firm ambitions to pave the way. We need to accept our responsibilities and step up our actions. We owe that to future generations, our children and our grandchildren.

We propose a national and binding goal for energy efficiency of 30% by 2030. This would set a clear course, make it even more realistic that we can reach our important climate ambitions and strengthen the basis for continued world-leading green business in Denmark.

We look to the newly elected politicians to live up to the expectations made clear by Danes in the elections: to give a strong boost to our journey towards a carbon neutral society by 2050; to ensure secure green jobs in Denmark; and to provide the requisite economic power to drive the changes we need in society.

 

The Social Democrats defeated the incumbent Liberal Party in the Danish national elections on 5 June 2019, a result many saw as a win for climate action


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