Identifying shared and contested elements in climate plans as part of shaping transitions towards a Danish low carbon society

Michael Søgaard Jørgensen

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    Abstract

    The Danish government's vision about Denmark as a society independent of fossil energy has initiated several Danish energy and climate action plans during 2009-2010 with visions and measures for a 30-40 year time perspective. The paper analyses differences and similarities in action plans from the Danish Society of Engineers, a renewable energy NGO, an environmental NGO and a national climate change commission. The aim is to identify shared and contested elements, which need to be addressed in attempts to establish alignment around transition efforts towards a fossil free Danish society. The analyses are conducted as part of a project about sustainable transitions towards a low carbon society. The plan from the renewable energy NGO is an energy plan, while the other plans are climate plans, which include non-energy related greenhouse gasses from land use changes and use of fertilizers in agriculture. The plans differ with respect to whether and how agricultural production and Danish food consumption should change as part of transitions towards a low carbon society. All four plans agree about a significant increase in Danish wind turbine capacity and stronger energy saving efforts in Danish production and consumption activities. The plans differ with respect to how big reduction of energy consumption it is possible to obtain and how big the future energy consumption will be. This has implications for how big wind turbine capacity the plans assume is necessary and possible to build, ranging from 200% to 500% increase. The different assumptions about the future energy need and the wind turbine capacity imply also big differences in the future role of biomass as energy source, ranging from 50% to 250% increase of the present consumption, which could imply quite different ecological and climate impacts. The plans build upon different scenarios for the overall Danish energy system concept, which have implications for investment needs in energy system infrastructure. The national commission's plan describes a system continuously exchanging energy with other countries through a transnational grid, while the other plans build upon scenarios for a more independent national energy system, where wind turbine energy mainly is used or stored in Denmark. Other differences in the plans show that creation of alignment about future transitions efforts also needs to address assumptions about the roles of economic growth and technological optimization, and of different public regulation efforts, not least whether economic measures and market development can initiate transitions towards a low carbon society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication2nd International Conference on Sustainability Transitions
    Publication date2011
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    Event2nd International Conference on Sustainability Transitions: Diversity, plurality and change: breaking new grounds in sustainability transition research - Lund University, Lund, Sweden
    Duration: 13 Jun 201115 Jun 2011
    Conference number: 2
    http://www.lucsus.lu.se/ist2011/

    Conference

    Conference2nd International Conference on Sustainability Transitions
    Number2
    LocationLund University
    Country/TerritorySweden
    CityLund
    Period13/06/201115/06/2011
    Internet address

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