SBE dean and Danish citizen Peter Møllgaard became the new chairman of the Danish Council on Climate Change from 1 December. Despite recent ominous reports, Møllgaard believes in a good outcome. “I am a born optimist.”
Last weekend, he gave one interview, to the Danish daily newspaper Politiken. But as yet he hasn't had an exchange with the council members. What Peter Møllgaard means to say, is that he has to keep a low profile to some extent; he has to keep his cards close to his chest. What about his work as dean of SBE?
It can be easily combined with the chairmanship (a period of four years). “It will take me one day a month and many of the tasks, which include giving interviews, can be done sitting at my desk. I will regularly appear in the spotlights.”
Møllgaard appears to be no newbie to the field of climate. As a researcher, he has been dealing with energy policies for about 25 years. How to make the energy consumption of citizens and companies climate-friendly? Only last year, he was part of the Danish Government’s Energy Commission.
The Danish Council on Climate Change advises the government about the transformation to a low-emission society by 2050, independent of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas. Yet at the same time, it takes into consideration competitiveness and economic growth. Its six members represent different areas of expertise, varying from biology and engineering to economics.
Denmark is doing well. “The carbon emission is substantially lower than in the Netherlands: 9 tons per capita, against 12 tons in the Netherlands. Denmark was an early bird. Fifty years ago, we already produced windmills and all the technology that comes with it.” The Danish windmills generate more than 40 per cent of all electricity in the country. It is no wonder that Denmark is also going to build the Dutch windmill park in the North Sea.
This does not at all mean that Møllgaard has a kind of ceremonial position. “There is plenty of work to be done. We’ve picked three targets. Agriculture, about the way we produce meat; buildings, about heating, lighting, et cetera; and the area of transport, as the government wants to stop the sale of fossil fuel cars in 2030.”
Transport is the most challenging in Denmark. That was in the Council’s latest report, published a week ago. “Amongst a lot of other things, we have to motivate the Danish to buy electric cars, and to press companies to come up with solutions. An interesting example is Maersk, the shipping container company. Much of the carbon emission takes place outside Denmark, in the oceans all over the world. How to reduce emissions? Maersk is testing new wind technology.” A few months ago, the company installed two 30-metre tall metal cylinders or rotor sails on one of its ships, leaving Rotterdam.
It recently appeared from a UN report that countries would have to make three times as much effort in order to prevent the earth from warming up less than 2 degrees. The international climate panel previously warned about a too high a rise in temperature. Møllgaard: “We have to get our act together. The meeting in Poland is crucial. It’s not impossible. I’m optimistic. In fact, I am a born optimist.”