Danish development policy has paid increasing attention to climate issues. Initially covered under “environmental” aid, climate change has become a political priority, especially since the early 2000s. In 2007, after agreeing to host the 15th UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009, Denmark made climate finance a pillar of its official development assistance. It also made a commitment to “climate-proofing” its ODA through a strategic framework for mainstreaming.

But what does this mean in practice? The analysis finds that Denmark has embedded climate change in its development activities through several policies, most notably the 2005 Climate and Development Action Programme. With a strong policy framework in place, the challenge now is integration in practice. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has relevant expertise, but its capacity is limited and shrinking.

The Danish government’s latest development strategy paper emphasizes green growth and the need to create a business- and investment-friendly environment to support private-sector participation. This is reinforced by the integration of development cooperation with foreign policy, trade and security. These changes could favour mitigation activities at the expense of adaptation, where private-sector involvement is far less common.

Funding pledges to climate change have steadily increased over the last few years, amounting to DKK 1.7 billion (~ 255 million USD) in 2010–2013. Although the Danish government has argued that these pledges are additional to existing official development assistance (ODA), Denmark’s budget freeze in 2011–2013 raised concerns that other development activities were affected. There is still some ambiguity in Denmark’s application of the concept of “new and additional” finance.

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