Denmark: Small state with a big voice and bigger dilemmas

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Denmark is a relatively small country by any standard and its influence in international climate negotiations remains limited. Nevertheless, the pioneering of certain climate-related policies, (including in renewables, energy efficiency and taxes on CO2), has, over the previous decades, been attracting international interest and has provided Denmark with some leverage to act as instigator and self-declared leader into international climate diplomacy. The independent Climate Change Performance Index, for instance, over three consecutive years ranked Denmark as its top performer in acknowledgement of the will and skill to transform into a low-carbon economy (Burck et al. 2014). Not least a strong policy dimension, including the propensity to speak with a loud voice, seems decisive for the top ranking. While Francis Fukuyama has proclaimed the ‘getting to Denmark’ a desirable approach (cf. Meaney, 2011), there are numerous dilemmas both at the substantive and diplomatic level when it comes to climate policy. Denmark’s actual greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) per capita remains above the EU average (OECD, 2012:73) reflecting a high level of individual consumption as well as sectoral interests related to resource extraction, intensive livestock farming and international shipping, that occasionally spill over into the policy making processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStill Taking a Lead? The European Union in International Climate Change Politics
EditorsRüdiger Wurzel, James Connelly, Duncan Liefferink
Publication year16 Nov 2016
ISBN (print)9781138647183
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2016
SeriesRoutledge/UACES Contemporary European Studies

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