Denmark plans to end all offshore oil and gas pumping by 2050

It's stepping up its efforts to limit climate change.

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Offshore construction platform for production oil and gas with bridge in evening time
Goodvibes Photo via Getty Images

Denmark hasn’t been shy about moving to a greener future, and that now includes casting off a large part of its fossil fuel legacy. The Press Association and Greenpeace report that the Danish Parliament has voted to end all offshore oil and gas pumping in the North Sea by 2050. It’s cancelling all upcoming exploration and production permits, and expects to wind down existing operations by that 30-year mark.

The vote got broad multi-party support and is unlikely to be overturned in the near term. Denmark has been producing offshore oil since 1972.

Denmark’s latest effort to slow climate change isn’t as dramatic a sacrifice as it would be for other countries. It’s a relatively wealthy nation, and produces ‘just’ 100,000 barrels of crude oil and equivalents per day versus roughly a million in the UK and 19 million in the US. The country can afford to drop oil and gas where a similar decision might hobble others, especially as it transitions toward a digital economy. Microsoft just announced plans to build a datacenter region in Denmark — efforts like those could pick up some of the slack.

It’s still a significant gesture, though. Denmark is a major EU oil producer, and it’s still rare to see countries purposefully abandon oil and gas production even if they’re committed to renewable energy. This could increase pressure on other countries to ditch fossil fuel production, at least those that make the leap without jeopardizing their economies.

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