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Denmark commits to ending all North Sea oil and gas activities by 2050

Luke O'Reilly
·2-min read
<p>A.P. Moller-Maersk's oil rig in the North Sea named Halfdan</p> (AP)

A.P. Moller-Maersk's oil rig in the North Sea named Halfdan

(AP)

Denmark has committed to ending all offshore gas and oil activities by 2050 - and has even cancelled its latest licensing round for drilling companies.

The country has declared that it is “putting an end to the fossil era” and will instead focus on wind power and other renewable energy sources.

The Danish parliament voted to end the North Sea gas and oil extraction that started in 1972 and made it the largest producer in the European Union. Non EU-members Norway and Britain are larger producers.

Denmark will this year pump just over 100,000 barrels of crude oil and oil equivalents a day, according to government estimates.

<p>Denmark hopes to use wind energy instead</p>Getty Images

Denmark hopes to use wind energy instead

Getty Images

That is relatively little in a global context. The UK produces about 10 times that amount while the US, the world’s largest producer, pumped more than 19 million barrels of oil a day last year.

Environmental activists nevertheless hailed Denmark’s move as significant as it shows the way forward in fighting climate change.

Greenpeace called it “a landmark decision toward the necessary phase-out of fossil fuels”.

“This is a huge victory for the climate movement,” said Helene Hagel of Greenpeace Denmark.

Wealthy Denmark has “a moral obligation to end the search for new oil to send a clear signal that the world can and must act to meet the Paris Agreement and mitigate the climate crisis”, she added.

The landmark 2015 Paris climate deal asks rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns.

It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2C.

Denmark has been an early adopter of wind power, with more than a third of its electricity production deriving from wind turbines. They are considered key in the transformation of the energy system and should enable Denmark to no longer be dependent on fossil fuels by 2050 for electricity production.

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