Globally, our climate is changing due to anthropogenic forcing. Understanding the role human activities play in climate change can help us come up with solutions to this ongoing, pressing issue. In order to alleviate the pressure of global warming, three countries developed frameworks, policies, and laws to strive to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate in their own country along with support to developing countries. Denmark, Sweden, and Chile are leading countries in climate action. Here’s why and what other countries can learn from their climate policy strategies.
3 Leading Countries in Climate Policy
In June 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark has developed a “Global Action Climate Strategy: A Green and Sustainable World” to slash emissions and set a framework for limiting global warming below 1.5C as set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The Danish government’s agreement outlines five goals:
- Increase global climate ambition. The government will work with states, organisations, and society to limit climate change through resilience, adapting, and sustainable development. Additionally, Denmark will take leadership in green transition to spark innovation globally.
- Reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The government will implement sustainable solutions for renewable energy, heating, retrofitting for energy efficiency, water treatment, food supply efficiency, and biofuels within the country and encourage these solutions globally. Additionally, they will work to reduce the Danish footprint of emissions within the framework of imports and consumption.
- Strengthen focus on climate adaptation and sustainable development. The government will fight global inequality as impacts felt by climate change are skewed and climate risks can worsen pre-existing poverty and displace people. Additionally, the government wants to increase climate adaptation development assistance that supports the needs of developing countries.
- Shift financial flows and investments from black to green. The government will support climate-friendly investments globally and strengthen climate financing for underprivileged communities. Green, climate-friendly investments include renewable energy and green technologies.
- Collaborate with the private sector on green solutions. The government will promote exports of green solutions, collaborate with sectors to create green ecosystems, promote innovation and development of green solutions, and work with European industrial alliances for Danish business to be a part of a green partnership.
These five goals set out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark can help reduce emissions, support the needs of developing countries, promote investment in green energy and other technologies, and spark innovation for other countries. Additionally, Denmark is part of the Nordic Countries in the European Union Renewable Energy Directive where countries have been working together to reach net-zero goals.
Since the climate strategy was released in 2020, Denmark made a decision to invest in a renewable energy project called Energy Islands, consisting of a network of offshore wind turbines in the North and Baltic Seas. In collaboration with government and private sectors, this project will generate enough energy for three million households, providing Danes and neighbouring countries to power their homes. This project is set to be up and running by 2033. Although this project is yet to be completed it has potential to provide Denmark and surrounding countries to be fully renewable thus reducing the need for fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources.
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In 2017, the Ministry of Climate and Enterprise of Sweden developed a climate policy framework containing climate goals, a climate act, and a climate policy council.
- Climate goals are Sweden’s emission reduction targets set by the Government with set targets in 2030, 2040, and 2045. These climate goals are set to gradually reduce greenhouse gas emission then ultimately achieve net zero by 2045. Additionally, the remaining emissions will be offset through increased carbon sequestration and carbon capture and storage technologies.
- Climate Act ensures that the Government will write policy bases on the climate goals, ensure climate and budget policy goals are succinct, present a climate report every year a Budget Bill is presented, and draw up a climate policy action plan to describe how climate goals will be achieved, on a four-year basis.
- Climate Policy Council is a body to hold the Government accountable and analyse policy set by the Government and how it aligns to climate goals set by the Parliament and Government. The Council holds the Government accountable through bringing attention to societal effects of proposed policy, recognise deficient policy, analyse short- and long-term targets with climate and budget policy goals in mind, and promote discussion on climate policy in society.
These three goals set by the Ministry of Climate and Enterprise of Sweden will reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the Council holding government bodies responsible, foster investment with carbon offsets and protection of forests, and simultaneously look at climate and budget policies as a whole. Additionally, Sweden is part of the Nordic Countries in the European Union Renewable Energy Directive where countries have been working together to reach net-zero goals.
Since the climate policy framework in 2017, Sweden is increasing the use of wood versus concrete (large source of carbon dioxide emissions) in construction and finding resourceful ways to build infrastructure to be resourceful with energy. In 2017 when the framework was released, Sweden emitted 3.32 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita in comparison to 2019 2.91 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita, a reduction of 0.41 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita in two years.
Like most countries around the world, Chile is dealing with its fair share of climate change-related impacts, from droughts and water shortages to extreme weather events, which have driven the country for a shift in political leadership and a push towards greener policies.
In June 2022, the Ministry of Environment of Chile introduced a Framework Law on Climate Change that introduced objectives, laws, and projections on climate vulnerable areas for Government Ministries to act in accordance with. The Framework is extensive and specific but sets an example for other countries to follow suit. The main objective is to reduce and absorb greenhouse gas emissions, reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, which will be monitored and reported every five years by the Ministry of Environment.
Although not exhaustive, a few highlights from the Framework Laws on Climate Change are:
- Emissions and transfer pollutants will be reported through a Registry. Pollutants must be reported annually and the emissions of greenhouse gases and climate forcing they generate.
- Climate and disaster risk management must be accounted for with design, implementation, preparation, and evaluation.
- The ozone layer is to be protected by preventing substances that deplete the ozone layer from entering the atmosphere.
- Sector adaptation plans will focus on areas greatest to vulnerability to climate change to increase resilience.
- Long-term climate strategy will hold Ministries responsible for reporting budgets on national budget emissions.
Lastly, projections on climate vulnerable areas was a project set out in 2022 by the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Chile in order for people to visualise and communicate the climate change risks to Chile. The outcome of this project was the Atlas of Climate Risks for Chile, an interactive map showing areas of climate threats of historical and future scenarios.
Collectively, these three countries demonstrate how framework, policy, and law can help guide us to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Setting goals, defining responsibilities, and holding accountability can help countries reduce and sequester emissions.
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