Denmark Climate Resilience Policy Indicator

This report is part of Climate Resilience Policy Indicator

About this report

Country summary

  • Rising 1.5°C since the 1870s, Denmark’s average annual temperature has increased slightly more quickly than the global average and is projected to continue climbing to the end of the century. The rise in average temperature could reduce overall energy consumption.
  • Denmark’s annual precipitation has increased by roughly 20% since the 1870s, making wet regions wetter, and climate projections indicate a further increase over the century, particularly in winter. More intense precipitation events could raise the risk of floods and aggravate the impacts on the energy system.
  • Although the Danish Strategy for Adaptation to a Changing Climate in 2008 identified energy as a key sector and suggested actions for energy system climate resilience, the 2012 Action Plan for a Climate-Proof Denmark did not address the energy sector specifically because Denmark’s national climate change impact assessment estimated climate impacts on energy supply to be minimal. Instead, local adaptation action plans have been developed based on the Danish Nature Agency’s guidance document covering flood risk mapping and priority-setting for local climate adaptation measures. Most Danish municipalities (96 of 98) are voluntarily revising their climate adaptation plans, and a new national climate adaptation plan is being elaborated.

Climate hazard assessment

Level of floods, drought and tropical cyclones in Denmark, 2000-2020


Level of warming in Denmark, 2000-2020



Denmark’s average annual temperature has been rising more quickly than the global average, with an increase of 1.5°C since the 1870s. Its average temperature across all seasons is projected to continue increasing with a similar rate throughout the year, with the magnitude of warming determined by greenhouse gas emissions levels. Compared with 1981-2010, annual mean warming at the end of the century is expected to be 1.9°C in an intermediate-emissions scenario and 3.4°C in a high-emissions scenario.1

For Greenland, high greenhouse gas concentrations could lead to a temperature rise of 5-7°C by 2100,2 which far exceeds the global mean. Due to regional and seasonal differences within Greenland, the northern part will experience more warming than the south, and temperature rise will be greater in the winter than the summer. Heatwaves are expected to increase in frequency and duration, while the number of cold days decreases by the end of the century.

As a result of continual warming, the number of heating degree days (HDDs) in the country has decreased while that of cooling degree days (CDDs) is increasing, impacting energy demand patterns. According to Denmark’s adaptation communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, warmer winters are expected to reduce overall annual energy demand, as winter consumption will drop enough to offset the slight increase in summer cooling needs.

Rising sea levels due to global warming may also increase concerns of high storm surges. Around Denmark, the water level has risen approximately 2 mm per year since 1900, and by the end of the century it is expected to be 0.3‑0.5 m higher than during 1981-2010.1 This rise in sea level could lead to an increase in storm surge height.

Temperature in Denmark, 2000-2020


Cooling degree days in Denmark, 2000-2020


Heating degree days in Denmark, 2000-2020



Annual precipitation in Denmark has increased by roughly 20% since the 1870s, making wet regions wetter. For instance, western Jutland, which was already one of the country’s wettest regions, experienced the greatest increase in precipitation, with amounts rising by 20% in the past 85 years.

Climate projections indicate that a further increase in precipitation will accompany gradual warming in the country. Greater precipitation is especially expected in winter, with 10‑25% more by the end of the century compared with 1981-2010.1 Summer precipitation patterns are projected to be highly variable, with longer dry spells and more frequent heavy precipitation events.

In Greenland, 20-60% more precipitation is expected by the end of the century than in 1986-2005.2 For the Faroe Islands, precipitation amounts increase approximately by 30% in winter and 10% in summer compared with the same baseline period.2

Clearly, more intense precipitation events could increase the risk of flooding. Floods resulting from heavy precipitation can disrupt the energy supply by directly damaging infrastructure or by forcing electricity suppliers to discontinue power transmission for safety reasons in flooded areas. In July 2011, for instance, a cloudburst (precipitation of extreme intensity over a short period of time) flooded the Copenhagen area, leaving 10 000 homes without electricity for up to 12 hours.

Policy readiness for climate resilience

In 2008, Denmark adopted its Danish Strategy for Adaptation to a Changing Climate, which identifies 11 key sectors’ vulnerabilities to climate change and outlines possible measures to increase climate resilience. As it considers energy a key sector, the strategy proposes several actions for energy sector adaptation and resilience. For example, it analyses the impact of higher wind speeds on electricity production and distribution grids.

While the adaptation strategy deems energy supply a key sector, the 2012 Action Plan for a Climate-Proof Denmark does not specifically address the energy system but presents 64 new initiatives for five general areas: improving the climate adaptation framework; expanding consultation and developing a new knowledge base; strengthening collaboration and co‑ordination; advancing the green transition; and adapting to climate change at the international level.

Part of the reason the action plan does not focus specifically on the energy sector is because climate-related effects on energy supply are considered minimal in the national assessment report Mapping Climate Change – Barriers and Opportunities for Action, which assesses climate impacts on energy production, consumption, imports and exports, and sources such as wind and biomass. The assessment shows that lower energy consumption resulting from milder winters would be the most significant climate change impact in the energy sector.

Denmark’s regional authorities have also developed local climate change adaptation action plans. To support municipalities and local-level decision makers, the Danish Nature Agency issued a guidance document in 2013. By 2014, all 98 of Denmark’s municipalities had finalised their action plans, which include flood risk mapping and priority-setting for local climate adaptation measures. In 2017, the government evaluated the local plans, and by 2021, 96 of the 98 municipalities had pledged to develop plans encompassing both climate adaptation and mitigation under the voluntary DK2020 initiative – a downscaled approach to the Climate Action Planning Framework developed under C40, a network of mayors of nearly 100 cities around the world.

In 2020, the Danish Coastal Authority published a new nationwide risk assessment for the entire Danish coastline. It includes mapping of flood and coastal erosion risks. Furthermore, proposals for risk reduction strategies and specific coastal protection initiatives were presented for municipalities to apply directly to their planning for the period 2020-2024. In 2022, Denmark appointed the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) as the national authority for flood warnings, and the country is also now a member of the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS).

Denmark’s 2019 National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) briefly describes the Danish Strategy for Adaptation to a Changing Climate and the Action Plan for a Climate-Proof Denmark, effectively linking the country’s national climate and energy policies. However, the NECP does not focus specifically on climate resilience in the energy sector, mentioning only that disconnecting wind turbines during high-speed winds in 2013 had a minor impact on energy security, and that burying overhead electricity transmission and distribution lines had improved their resiliency. Other national energy documents such as the Energy Strategy 2050 (2011) and the Energy Agreement (2018) also do not focus on climate resilience.

Currently under way is a new national climate adaptation plan in which the Danish government will present a range of initiatives to deal with a wide variety of climate adaptation challenges. Among other topics, this plan is expected to discuss municipal planning, high groundwater tables, cross-municipal climate adaptation, and protection of Copenhagen against storm water damage. This plan’s initiatives are to be implemented during 2023-2026.

  1. By 2081-2100, according to IPCC climate scenarios RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5, respectively.

  2. According to IPCC climate scenario RCP 8.5.