Photo: Colourbox

Green Student Movement puts forward new Danish climate policy

Thursday 11 Apr 19

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Kenneth Bernard Karlsson
Senior Researcher
DTU Management
+4546 77 51 17

The Green Student Movement climate plan will be launched at an event at the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen on 30 April.


Learn more about DTU energy model: 'Realistic climate initiatives from political parties? DTU crunches the numbers'


See the modelling tool (in Danish) at klimaaftalen.tokni.com

With the help of an energy modelling tool developed at DTU management, The Green Student Movement has created its own ambitious climate plan.

We have talked about climate change long enough—the time has come to act. This is the view of more and more young people, and last year, some of them formed Den Grønne Studenterbevægelse (the Green Student Movement) via Facebook.

They are now launching a climate plan—i.e. a comprehensive plan for how Denmark can achieve its goal of becoming CO2 neutral by 2050. The plan has been developed in collaboration with researchers at DTU Management’s Energy Systems Group using their ‘Klimaaftalen’ modelling tool.

The Green Student Movement is a movement—not an association with a fixed structure and registered members—and everything they do is based on individual members’ knowledge and initiative. 

The initiative for the climate plan came from Søren Storgaard Sørensen, who is in the process of writing his master's thesis on the MSc Eng programme in Sustainable Energy. He quickly gathered a group of 15 students from different disciplines in a one-day workshop together with the researchers behind the energy modelling tool. One of the participants was Alexandra Freltoft, who has a Master's in Mathematical Modelling and Computation from DTU. She explains:

“We started by establishing our overall CO2 budget. It had to be in line with a global goal of no more than a one and a half degree rise in temperature. Translated into Danish conditions, this means that we can emit 300 megatons of CO2 between now and 2050. Denmark is a rich country that can lead the way—and with the figure of 300 megatons we’re ahead of the game, so we can compensate for other countries that are perhaps lagging behind.”

The modelling tool can simulate how to achieve your goal in the cheapest way possible, and its first answer was: build lots of onshore wind turbines.

“But we can’t cover Denmark in wind turbines, so we set an upper limit on this sector, otherwise the plan would be absolutely useless,” says Alexandra.

Other restrictions were added—e.g. that the phasing out of fossil fuels should start immediately and be distributed evenly across all the years. Because if you wait to reduce emissions to just before the time when you have to be neutral, you will use too much CO2 getting there.

From climate model to climate policy
The plan shows that it is technically possible to achieve this ambitious goal—and what is more—that it is also affordable.

“Following our plan isn’t significantly more expensive than allowing market forces to govern and development to take care of itself—this is what the model calls frozen policy. We think it’s important that politicians make the investments needed to follow the plan now instead of letting things slide and then cleaning up later,” says Søren Storgaard Sørensen.

In his mind, one of the main strengths of the modelling tool is that it forces you to be very specific on objectives and funding.

“Our climate plan is just one of many and we’re very much open to new ideas for adjustments—but at least now we’ve shown that we are serious and willing to make some choices. We’ve made it clear what we mean by an ambitious climate policy. Politicians aren’t always so clear when they talk about their climate targets,” says Søren.

Last autumn, the researchers behind the model offered all the political parties the chance to calculate their input to an energy agreement. None of them accepted the offer, however. Now the Green Student Movement hopes that their plan can win the support of politicians and encourage them to use the modelling tool to flesh out their own climate policy proposals.

“The model is a great tool for politicians,” says Alexandra. “It allows you to change assumptions and policies and instantly see the results. But you can also turn to researchers for help—like we did.”