Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen''s address at Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) Working Lunch September 11, 2006

Thank you Mr. Chairman, Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to contribute to our discussion today on the important questions regarding sustainable development and energy security.

In my opinion, the most important challenge is: How do we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels?

And for two main reasons:

Firstly, to have stable energy supply at reasonable prices. And secondly for reasons relating to the environment and to climate change.

You may ask: Can we reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and at the same time ensure economic growth?

In my view, it is indeed possible to pursue economic growth - while at the same time stabilizing consumption of energy and safeguarding the environment. The key tools are energy efficiency; and the use of renewable energy sources. Let me give you a concrete example:

Our experience in Denmark shows that we can maintain economic growth and reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. During the last 25 years, Denmark’s economy has grown by more than 50% - without an increase in the consumption of energy. This has been achieved while maintaining Denmark’s economic performance as one of the most competitive countries globally.

Two elements have been important in this effort:

Firstly, our experience shows that efficiency must be optimised on all levels - from production and distribution to consumption at the end user.

In Denmark, we use a mix of policies and measures:

  • new energy saving technologies and continued innovation
  • high energy standards for buildings, regulated by the government
  • and economic incentives
  • in particular energy taxation.

This mixed approach has been fruitful in Denmark. The energy needed to produce one unit of GDP in Denmark is 35% lower than the average of other industrialised countries.

At the same time, there has been a devoted effort in Denmark to develop alternative sources of energy and especially cleaner energy sources.

In Denmark 20% of our production of electricity comes from wind energy. And we have set the goal for 2010 at 25% - one fourth of our production of electricity. I believe this goal to be very realistic.

Furthermore, 15% of the total energy produced comes from renewable sources - in particular from wind and biomass. Biomass therefore also plays an important role in Danish energy production.

And the technology is becoming increasingly efficient and competitive. In fact, it is expected globally to become the fastest growing source of renewable energy. Wind energy competes on market terms. So this is also a commercial success.

As an input to our further discussion today, I would suggest that by focusing on three key efforts, we could first of all reduce our dependency on fossil fuels while at the same time improving the environment:

Firstly, we should invest in and develop new technology in order to expand the sources of renewable energy. And also in order to continue making the available technology more efficient.

And secondly, we should promote efficient technology transfer programmes based on research and innovation. Let me point to one important example:

Under the Kyoto Protocol the Clean Development Mechanism is already available to promote technology transfer and clean energy solutions. The benefits are mutual. Cooperation programmes have been established between Denmark and China, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Thirdly, by setting targets for increased use of renewable energy we are able to both stimulate and benchmark progress. I am pleased to see that a number of countries in both Asia and Europe have taken this approach.

I believe that ASEM can be a useful forum to elaborate and to take action on these issues. Therefore, I would like to invite ASEM ministers of environment to Copenhagen in the spring of 2007 to continue the discussion, with a special focus on climate change and sustainable energy.

It is my sincere hope that the Copenhagen meeting will advance the common efforts to define future cooperative actions to address climate change, as well as to promote the development, transfer and deployment of low carbon technologies.

Thank you Mr Chairman.