Forbes: “The best country for business in the world” is one with a very strong carbon cap and a 20% renewable standard for 2011

Well, Forbes magazine has given progressive advocates of climate action a terrific talking point:  The “best country for business in the world” — for two years running — is uber-green Denmark (photo below courtesy of Forbes).

Denmark has one of the strongest cap-and-trade commitments in the world — 20% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.  And it has a requirement that 20 percent of its overall energy mix be renewable by the end of 2011.  And its efficiency measures are such that Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard said last year, “In 2025, (Denmark’s) total energy consumption will not have risen in 50 years.”

And Forbes says that’s great for business!


Last month, Forbes magazine published its “The Best Countries For Business, 2009.”   Swiss climate change expert Nicolas M¼ller e-mailed me that buried inside was an attack on cap-and-trade — and a delicious irony, which gives us the talking point.

Forbes‘ #2 country for business is the good-ole-USA, but the blurb on our fair country contains this absurd warning:

The biggest economy in the world and third-largest population, the U.S. continues to support business-friendly economic policies, despite a recent move in the balance of power from Wall Street to Washington. Broad policy shifts such as Cap and Trade, though, threaten to damage its economic competitiveness, particularly in industrial sectors.

Be afraid of cap and trade!

Or maybe not.  I have argued that a strong leadership on energy and climate is crucial to competitiveness (see Why the United States REQUIRES a strong climate bill to remain competitive, Part 1 and Part 2: When the global Ponzi scheme collapses (circa 2030), the only jobs left will be green].

Now Forbes has made an even better case.  Completely lost on Forbes is that their #1 country for business — “for a second straight year” — is heavily capped, uber-green Denmark!!  Indeed, M¼ller notes the “big irony” in his email:

The country N°1 in their list is Denmark which has spent plenty of money in renewables, is covered by a cap and trade system, has one of the most stringent emission targets, taxes cars 100% or more, and has globally one of the most constraining environmental regulatory framework.

Here is how Denmark’s government looks at clean energy, from a February 2008 article:

Denmark aims to increase its use of renewable energy to 20 percent of its overall energy mix by the end of 2011, up from 15 percent today, the government said Friday.

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s liberal-conservative government [!], along with most other parliamentary parties, agreed late Thursday on the new target, the Climate and Energy Ministry said in a statement….

The deal was reached less than a month after the European Commission set a renewable energy target for Denmark at 30 percent by 2020 as part of an EU-wide scheme aimed at reducing dependence on fossil fuel.

The Danish agreement calls for better subsidies for developing energy from wind, biomass and biogas, and for two new wind parks to be built off the Scandinavian country’s coast by 2012.

Cars running on hydrogen fuel will be exempt from taxes while the tax-free status of electric cars will be extended until 2012, according to the statement.

“The creation of a stable framework for investments in renewable energy is in everyone’s interest,” Hedegaard said, adding that Denmark would also try to slash its overall energy use by two percent by 2011 compared to 2006 levels, and by four percent by 2020.

When it comes to reducing energy use, “Denmark is a world leader and we intend to continue in the same mode,” Hedegaard said, pointing out that “In 2025, (Denmark’s) total energy consumption will not have risen in 50 years.”

Glad to see that someone at Forbes realizes aggressive government action on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and carbon caps are good for business.

[Yes, I’m aware that Denmark’s carbon commitment is so strong it will require complementary measures to meet.  That is the nature of the EU approach.]

6 Responses to Forbes: “The best country for business in the world” is one with a very strong carbon cap and a 20% renewable standard for 2011

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Left hand, meet right hand.

  2. Matthew says:

    The liberal in Denmark’s liberal-conservative party is a centre right party; not a progressive party in the US definition of the word liberal.

  3. john says:


    Great story — brings to mind the study by Michael Porter of Harvard Business School who started a study with states to show how stringent environmental laws were bad for economic growth. but when he ran the numbers, there was a negative correlation to his hypothesis — that is, the more stringent the environmental laws, the better the economy performed.

    He was an honest enough analyst to investigate the issue and came away a convert — believing that intelligent regulation was GOOD for the economy, and laissez faire, not so much.

  4. Theis from Denmark says:

    “The best country for business in the world” is also the country with the highest income tax rate in the world:

    The praise for the current government is overblown. The credit for Denmarks leading green position should go to the former Social-democratic led government in power from 1993-2001. When the current government was first elected in 2001 they cut down on all development of wind projects. Only in the last few years have they picked up the mantle with the new and more progressive Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard, who’s working very hard for a succesfull climate summit in Copenhagen in december.

  5. Col says:

    I was told that the wind-power succes in DK was more the result of a social movement than an environmental one. DK is a relatively small country where markets tend to become monopolised. The story goes that the Kommune’s there (a system of units which are a blend between co-operatives and municipalities I’m not going to pretend to understand) wanted to be more socio-politically independent from energy monopolies and so began to develop the wind power industry as a response. (Decades later, the wind industry has mostly consolidated there now not suprisingly.)

    I’m sure this is simpified, if not simplistic overarching storyline but I’m also sure there’s something to it. Maybe Theis from Denmark could further comment?

  6. Goran Wiklund says:

    Denmark has an ambitious climate programme, but here’s what its neighbour is aiming at:

    WWF: Sweden sets climate goals example for EU

    The new climate and clean energy package proposed by Sweden should serve as an example for all EU countries ahead of crucial global warming negotiations,
    Denmark has an ambitious programme, but that is also true for its neighbour:

    Sweden’s Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said that his country now aims by 2020 for renewable energy to comprise 50 percent of all energy produced, for the Swedish car fleet to be independent of fossil fuels 10 years later and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050.

    “We think it is fantastic that the government recognises the important role that eco-efficiency plays in improving the economy,” Lasse Gustavsson, Secretary general of WWF in Sweden said.
    “If the Swedish government can convince other industrial countries to adopt Sweden’s ambitious climate package, the world would be better suited for combating destructive climate change,” he said.

    Sweden, which now plans to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from its 1990 levels within the next 11 years, was asked to cut CO2 output by just 17 percent.