Denmark has not experienced any litigation against private actors for climate unfriendly operations. However, a possible avenue could be explored through Denmark’s participation in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The latter have required OECD Members to establish National Contact Points (NCP) to promote the effective implementation of the Guidelines. Whilst the Danish NCP has not been very active, it was reformed in 2012 with the adoption of a new Act on the establishment of a Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution for Responsible Business Conduct. The Danish NCP is an independent public sector body. Anyone can make a complaint. The processing is less expensive and much quicker than going to court. Much of the evidence collection is, to some extent, undertaken by the NCP itself. Whilst financial compensation can’t be awarded by the NCP, the result could be considered equivalent to a court judgment. In fact, naming and shaming could lead to altered conduct and make the business in question start operating in a more climate friendly manner.

Denmark has not experienced any litigation against the state or government department/agency for approving a project that contributes negatively to climate change or that fails to adapt to climate change. At least not in cases where climate change was mentioned directly. However, there have been cases both related to climate mitigation and adaptation where climate unfriendly projects have led to cases being brought against a public actor.

A first example comes from Danish administrative practice and is a decision by the Environment and Nature Board of Appeal of 4 November 2011 (MAD 2011.2645). The appeal board annulled a decision to allow for a large, combined heat and power plant to be coal-fired. Greenpeace Denmark successfully argued the lack of an assessment under the Habitats Directive (Article 6(3)) and the inadequacy of the environmental permit conditions. The key ground of review was a procedural one: the lack of an appropriate impact assessment.

Similarly, in a case before the Supreme Court, a Danish Cyclist Association successfully raised a claim regarding the lack of an EIA of a road project (U2000.1103H/MAD2000.83H). Again, however, climate change was not an argument and specific climate change legislation was not at stake. They key ground of review was procedural: the authorisation of the project was deemed unlawful because of the lack of an appropriate impact assessment. This was again the case in a High Court case from 1994 (U1994.78Ø) where Greenpeace Denmark was accepted as having sufficient legal interest in a claim against the Ministry of Transport regarding an EIA of the Øresund-bridge project.

No climate litigation has been brought by a citizen/group of citizens challenging Denmark’s national climate policy. Several reasons could be suggested for this lack of litigation. To have standing, the claimant must have sufficient individual and significant interest. Abstract claims will not be admitted. In Denmark, this includes a claim that the Danish government has failed to comply with its climate change obligations. There are also other possible reasons, such as the risk of having to pay the costs of the opponent in Danish courts, the lack of courts that specialise in environmental or climate law and the lack of a fundamental right to a healthy environment in the Danish Constitution.