Denmark's 'ambitious' climate plan still falls short, says opposition MP

On the heels of new warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Denmark just announced measures to fight against climate change.

Rasmus Nordqvist warns that even with global warming initiatives set for 2030, we need to act faster

An Indian farmer surveys the loss of his ancestral farmland after it was submerged because of rising sea levels. The latest UN report on climate change calls for swift action as a last resort to avoid a global climate crisis. (Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP/Getty Images)
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The outlook is bleak.

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued another dire warning on climate. Despite the calls for swift action, few countries seem willing to heed the warnings.

But on Tuesday, the ruling conservative government in Denmark said it was ready to do its part.

Denmark revealed a plan to enforce tougher measures on pollution and phase out the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2030. The government also said it would pursue labelling on food to show its climate impact.

However, opposition parties say it doesn't go far enough.

Rasmus Nordqvist, a member of Parliament for the environment-focused Alternative party, spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the need for an even more ambitious plan.

Here is part of their conversation.

The prime minister of your country said this plan proves that his government is ready to fight climate change and the future can be green. Do you think the measures he announced today live up to that promise?

No, far from it, unfortunately. I mean, what is great about this plan is finally this government is actually agreeing that we have a serious climate crisis and we need to act. But unfortunately, the right measures are not in this plan.

We're f--ked.- Rasmus Nordqvist
Droplets of water drip from melting ice on the periphery of the Hornkees glacier on Aug. 26, 2016, near Ginzling, Austria. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that without immediate action the planet is heading for a climate crisis. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

What's missing?

It's good steps when it comes to transport, to cars, so forth. But what's missing is basically the whole agricultural industry, which is big in Denmark.

And then, also, how do we look at our whole idea of how to think economy, think growth, and the whole issue on how to transform our society into a sustainable society?

The main plank, as we understand, of this climate plan is to phase out the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2030. From the point of view of other countries, the international community, this sounds like an ambitious goal. Is it not?

I don't think we should measure against other countries. We should measure against the Paris Agreement we've all signed up for. If we follow that, especially a country like Denmark, we need to move faster.

I mean, yes, we need to phase out the diesel and gas cars. We think 2025 is a better year. But also we have to see what's in this plan.

What about the hybrid cars? Are they allowed for another five years, as the prime minister is saying? Because, we actually know with the UN report that we need to move fast, both in Denmark, and in Canada as well.

Part of the plan in Denmark is to get labels on food in supermarkets that show its climate impact. This sounds like something that is ambitious as well, is it not?

It is ambitious.

You can actually compare, for example, meat, red meat, compared to vegetables. So you can actually do a real comparison while you are doing your grocery shopping.

So it depends on how it's being done. We are very positive about doing declaration on food because we need to change the way we're eating as well. We need to eat much less meat and much more vegetables. It's an interesting idea.

Smog blankets a street in China's Shanxi province. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

You say you don't care what other countries are doing. It's what you want Denmark to do. But at the same time, is there not a problem if you're way ahead of other countries? I mean, we hear this in Canada, we hear this elsewhere, saying, "Well, why should we be way out there doing something when other countries aren't doing the same thing?" So do you expect some pushback from Danes on this?

No, actually we can see a population which actually says now that climate is at the top of the agenda. There's a lot of Danes who say we need to move on this.

We need to say to ourselves, especially as politicians, and I'm saying this again with the UN report in mind, "What can we do? How? What big steps can we take?"

Let us be an inspiration and a case other countries can learn from.

At a press conference, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change announces that avoiding global climate chaos will require a major transformation of society and the world economy that is 'unprecedented in scale.' (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

But if you're saying Denmark isn't going far enough, where does that leave ... well, you just mentioned Canada and the U.S., where there's a president that denies that climate change is even happening. So, where are we?

I was just about to use a word that I don't think you use in Canadian radio. But it is serious now.

But also the positive side to it is actually in the report itself. We have an open window to act now. And we need citizens to tell their governments, their politicians, their elected politicians, "You need to act now." Because we have to do all the difficult things.

Just out of curiosity, you've got me wondering, what is the word you decided you couldn't say on Canadian radio?

It was just that we're f--ked.

Written by Chris Harbord and John McGill. Produced by Chris Harbord. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

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