Or is it?
A central argument for resisting binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is concern for economic growth. However, experience from Denmark shows that with a persistent and active energy policy focused on increasing energy efficiency it is possible to maintain high economic growth, while at the same time reducing the dependency on fossil fuels and protecting the environment.
Denmark's energy efficiency is today among the highest in the EU, and continues to rise each year. The country has one of the most efficient uses of energy and a low level of CO2-emission in relation to production levels, compared to other EU and OECD countries. Since 1980, Denmark's economy has grown by 78%, alongside nearly stable energy consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.
The country's sustainable growth has been created by a combination of investments in technological development, green taxes and a political effort to promote the use of renewable energy. Since the 1970s Denmark has seen major investments and research into alternative energy sources, especially wind, and efficiency improvements of existing power stations.
Today, renewable energy comprises 19% of overall energy consumption. This has increased energy supply security and contributed significantly to the attainment of Denmark's climate targets. From 1990 to 2007, economic activity in Denmark increased by more than 45%, while CO2 emissions decreased by more than 13% [Ambassador Einar Hebogard Jensen, "Bangladesh on the Road to COP15 in Copenhagen," The Daily Star, 2009.08.28].
The city of Copenhagen also burns 75% of its garbage for electricity and heat. 36% of its residents bike as their main mode of transportation. The Danes also feel pretty darned happy.
In other news Copenhagen-watchers might find interesting, Mr. Price at Robbinsdale Radical shares videos from Copenhagen from South Dakota's Jamie Horter. She's the Augustana student working for strong climate change action at the summit.
Jamie might want to pass around copies of this new Ipsos Public Affairs poll that finds 70% of Americans believe global warming is real and that 61% of those folks believe it's mostly human-caused. 52% support using cap-and-trade to tackle carbon emissions. The poll also finds people are more worried about jobs than electric rate increases: support for cap-and-trade drops to 43% if it includes a hypothetical $25-per-month hike in electric bills, but that support bounces back to 60% if that hike is accompanied by "a significant number of 'GREEN' jobs."